Friday, November 30, 2007

l 'art de vivre

A couple of years ago the book, French Women Don't Get Fat by Mereille Guiliano came out and after seeing Madame Guiliano on Oprah I bought the book. Well, sweet Cindi said that she wanted the book so when the time came that I needed a little something for her I gifted her with French Women Don't Get Fat which left me with a vague knowledge of the contents but not much more. In 2006 Madame came out with another book, French Women For All Seasons
so I bought it and loved reading every delicious word of it but that was as far as it went. Then last summer I stumbled upon her website and signed up at a cost of $19 something a month for her menus, support forums and advice from Madame herself, but with the wedding and everything else going on I never really had time to get into it and was about to unsubscribe when the Sunday after Thanksgiving I stepped on my scale and about fainted when I saw the offending #.

Miraculously, that same morning John had said, 'I'm going on a diet'. So that was all it took for me to log onto FWDGF, download the weekly shopping list and away we went off to Papa Joe's
to stock up for the week. My Italian husband was a bit nervous when I kept talking about all this French food I was about to embrace but I assured him that he only had to eat what he wanted and there would be plenty of meat and veggies which he adores thankfully.

It has been 5.5 days now and with Madame's approach to 'the art of living' I have taken off the awful holiday weight and started to learn a whole new appreciation for the pleasure of food. I am optimistic that with this new found knowledge and the exercise program which is all about the French way to move, there is a chance that I might finally get rid of those extra **lbs. that have crept up over the last 20 years.

I still haven't even thought about Christmas decorating yet but have enjoyed looking at a couple of blogs to help ease us into the season. Our company Christmas party is tomorrow night so that will clear the schedule a bit when we get back from up north to get busy next week with at least the tree. I hear MP got a pretty blanket of snow last night.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Clean Dining Room

Well the house is finally put back together after Thanksgiving and I'm having trouble motivating myself to start dragging out the Christmas decorations. John will probably start putting the tree together the first of next week. It is an old artificial tree that you have to put each branch into the center stem and it takes forever to assemble. Then he puts the lights on and does a beautiful job of it taking the time to wrap hundreds of colored lights around all those branches.

It would be nice to have a fresh tree but John has a particular fondness for this old tree so that is the tree we use. Last year I came up with the solution to the fact that our great room is 20' high and the tree is 7' tall. John says the tree is 9' tall and I'm not positive about exactly how tall it is but it is too small for the room. We tried putting it on a table but when we started decorating it the ornaments on the front of the tree made it tip over. So, my solution was to make a huge tall tree topper out of red glitter sticks, bows and ribbons galore. Not perfect but it settles the to small issue for me.

I do not know if it is the winter light or what. My pictures are not coming out very crisp. Sorry for the fuzzy dining room corner picture but I did want to pop in and say hi, and I hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

After I set up this place setting to use as a Thanksgiving post this morning I realized that most everything in this place setting has been given as gifts from sweet friends or family. For years my Mom gave me a couple stems of Waterford's Lismore goblets in red & white wine sizes. Sheryl, our matron of honor, gave us the Waterford Champagne flute for our first toast at our wedding. The Mottahedeh Chelsea Bird plate was a gift from Sarah & Suzi. The white Wedding Band plates and salt cellars are part of the box of treasures Maurine got me for Christmas a few years ago. The gold silverware is a set that John's Mom got us for a wedding present. We are certainly blessed to have so many wonderful people in our lives that have been so generous over the years.
Here is a picture of what we will actually be eating off for our Thanksgiving feast. After the first couple of years as a part of this big Italian family I gave up the fine china for paper plates, not just any paper though, Chinet.......and this year we have even added desert plates.

Hope everyone here is the US is not wearing their self out too much getting ready for the big feast. Happy Thanksgiving to all that will be celebrating tomorrow.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Cookie Day

Things starting out nicely with Peggy, Josephine and Steve rolling out the dough. Mary Ann was manning the trays. Yes, it is 9:00 am and those are beer bottles on the counter, what can I's tradition.
Cathy and Pat are ever so gently dipping the cookies into the frosting then the nuts after they come out of the oven and John dumps them on the table to be cooled.
Things are heating up a bit. John got a nasty burn on the inside of his forearm and Peggy is trying to keep the flour out of her nose. Jo and Steve barely looked up all day, amazing.
Some more of the kids arrive a bit later and the Mimosas come out and the cookies start to pile up. Mandy keeps filling the containers that everyone brings to take home their share of the bounty to make room for more cookies as they come out of the oven.
Pat takes a well deserved break from dipping to hold the baby while Dave and Niki wait for me to make more frosting and quit taking pictures. All in all it was a great day. I didn't get any pictures of the meal after all the cookie business was stowed away because we were just too busy but the food was delicious as always. The sauce John made was so good, and the big salad, warm rolls and wine was enough to fill us all up after a hard days work. By 3:00pm everyone was packed up and ready to head out.

Another successful Cookie Day is on the books. We think we surpassed our total from years past with more than 1,500 cookies made. We so love having every one here on Cookie Day and look forward to many more. This year was bitter sweet because just last month John's beloved Aunt Micki passed away. She and her brother, John's dad, started this tradition I think but am not positive since I'm still fairly new at all this. Hopefully the next generations to come will follow up and continue to crank out these unnamed Italian Christmas cookies for many years to come and use this sweet tradition to help knit together many more precious memories of Cookies Days past, present and future.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Pink Bunny PJ's

While Christmas shopping with D & B yesterday we found the cutest PJ's in a soft pink flannel with bunnies ice skating on them. They had them in children's and adult so three pair made their way into the shopping cart, one for Taylor, one for Riley & one for Grama to match the girls on Christmas morning ;)
This is what my kitchen counter looks like this morning after unloading the bags and trying to sort them into piles for each child then the dreaded evening out process will begin after I get the piles into bags for each of them. At this age it is not about how much each item costs but more about having the same amount of presents to open which the kids really don't even pay attention to but I guess it is an old habit left over from when ours were still little and at home.

Well I better go get this stuff into bags and clear the counters to start some breakfast and then get my cookie dough mixed up and into the fridge for tomorrow. John had to run into work this morning but I noticed that he has his ground beef thawing in the garage to use for the sauce which means he will hopefully be actually making the sauce, yeah!

Hope everyone is having a good weekend.

******Edit******Just thought I would add that the pink bunny PJ's are from Target.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Nursery Ready for Guests

Blake and Dana will be here later today. The boys are all celebrating the first day of deer hunting season so we will have some time to spend together. Carrie is going to visit a friend in Indiana. She has been so busy with school that I am happy that she is getting a bit of a break and getting to see her friend. We will miss her but I don't feel bad about her choice at all. I know how hard it is to fit in family time and friend time and we will enjoy plenty of time together over Christmas break.

Usually when Dana is here we fit in a little decorating. I'm hoping that we can figure out how to hang the curtains that go in the nursery. They have a white background with blue violets on them and are from our old house. I wish I could be content with the no curtain look that most enjoy now but to me a room isn't finished until the curtains are hung, especially tailored curtains. They are terribly out of style now but I still love them.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Clean Cutting Board For Cookie Day

Early this morning while waiting for the second pot of coffee to brew I noticed the smell of garlic coming from the dishwasher........yuck! The remnants of Monday nights roast beef dinner had been finished off, and even though rinsed well, the cutting board still had the scent of the garlic that had been chopped on it. I scrubbed the offender with lemon until the smell was gone. No more garlic smell, at least for the rest of the morning.

No sauce making today because this Sunday is, what we call, cookie day. We will make the sauce Saturday and put it in the garage to cure until brought into service Sunday. There will be a kitchen full of Italian cousins, a few friends and Dana & Blake forming assembly line stations all over the place. We will make around 1,500 Italian Christmas cookies that no one can remember the name of. We have been told what they are but never seem to pitiful.

Every family brings 2 bundles of the cookie dough that they make at home. The dough is rolled into long strips and filled with almond paste then cut on the diagonal making little cookies. When finished cooking they are spread on the table to cool then the newbies dip them in frosting, then chopped walnuts and set them out to dry. If any one knows the name of these cookies please let me know. Maybe if it is in writing I will be able to remember what they are.........

After all the cookies are made and divided among the bakers we do a quick clean up them pull all the tables into the center of the kitchen for a feast of rigatoni with meat sauce that includes meat balls, ribs & sausage for this special occasion. We get fresh bread from Randazzo and the cousins bring the ingredients for the antipasto .

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Upper Stairway

Here are couple of fuzzy pictures of our stairway landing. The art is of mostly antique hunting scene pictures either in their original frames or newly framed.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Indoor Gardening

The Window Garden
From left to right is my flat leaf parsley plant that I use in cooking. The little plants are from the grocery store and planted in the blue & white cache pot from the resale shop up north last summer. The next one is my philodendron cuttings set in water so they will root. They are in a little pink glass from Anthropology's and when they sprout their new roots I'll transplant them into something else. Up next is an outdoor geranium in a little ruffled blue & white cache pot that just keeps perking along. The green pitcher is where I keep my dish scrubbing brush but I took it out for the picture ;) Next to it is a bundle of tiny pinks (carnations) that I picked up last Monday that gets shuffled around and picked apart to use other places. Behind the pinks in the same vase is a small branch I found outside that had berries and leaves on it that I thought was so pretty. I brought it in and stuck it in the water along with the pinks. Well, what I found out is that the leaves fall off leaving just the berries. I'm so excited to know this, it doesn't take much to excite me. One of these days soon I'll go out in the yard and cut more branches that might have berries on them to use for holiday arrangements.
Never a fan of carnations, the pleasure this little bouquet has brought me is surprising. The ruffled edges of each petal is so intricate and adorable. The staying power of these work horses can not be over stated, they look as fresh as the day they came home last Monday and the price is very reasonable. In my sage green twist vase they grace this end table with simple beauty beside the needlepoint coasters.
Hopefully I can keep this little collection of violets and what ever that yellow thing is going in the living room. The sun this room gets should be good for the violets if I can figure out how much water they require before I kill them off. This pot doesn't have a drainage hole and I forgot to ask for the plants to be put in a separate liner, they may need transplanting.
The white roses in this centerpiece are fading but the larkspur and carnations are still OK after a week on the dining room table.
Absolutely Beautiful Things had a picture on her blog that inspired this arrangement in my foyer. Her picture was on a crisp white surface and had pretty white shells and petals in the glass footed dish creating a pretty vignette. When I saw her photo it inspired me to go collect the items from around the house that were similar to the ones in her shot, the pink votive candle from the Pottery Barn outlet, the Aromatique's glass dish and the Lady Primrose like silver topped rose bottles, and make a little table scape. The ABT photo had gorgeous Star Gazer lily's in the little vase but my budget alternative was to use a few sprigs of my pinks bouquet from the window garden and put them in one of the hob nail vases from Kyle & Carrie's rehearsal dinner with strips of tape creating a tiny grid to make the blooms go farther. Although no where near the quality or crisp beauty of the ABT vignette this one adds that little bit of cluttered beauty, that I can't seem to get away from, to the foyer.

Hope you enjoyed this indoor garden tour.

Saturday, November 10, 2007


Since we moved here I have been trying to think of a name for our house but nothing seemed to work until the other day when I was puttering in the guest room getting ready for my parents visit. While restocking the supplies like TP, toothpaste, deodorant, fresh soap and the like the thought came to me to put new robes for the guest rooms on my wish list. From there it went to having the rooms be stocked like a resort hotel then on and on as that goes.............Well from that puttering came the idea to get the robes from The Greenbrier hotel because I remembered that they had big green G's, which is the first letter of our last name, on them and the monogram would be a nice touch.
Then I started to remember my trip to The Greenbrier many years ago and thought about their use of bright colors balanced with a lot of white just like we are doing in this house, so maybe we could borrow the names for our much less grand, but never-the-less similar, at least in future direction, interior style. I really don't think they would mind and we do have plenty of green outside, OK not many other similarities but what the heck, Greenbrier it is.

The robes cost a bundle so will most likely be put on the back burner but out of my puttering came the name for our house, how divine, as Candice Olson would say. Hope everyone has a good weekend and fits in a little time for puttering, you never know what may come from it.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Pretty Pages Plus!

The clock is ticking and I need to get ready to head up north but before that I wanted to share something with you. Grace left me a comment about the planner pages at Brocante Home. On her recommendation I took a look and have been whiling away far to much time on this fabulous website of Allison's. It is chock full of fun useful information presented in the most beautiful way. It may not be every ones cup of tea, but what that is truly fabulous really is, viva la differences. I'm probably late to this party, but for those who enjoy this sort of thing and have never been to Brocante Home you just might fall in love.

Allison offers free planner pages that you can download that are so pretty and easily integrate with the FlyLady system. The site takes a bit of navigating but is well worth the effort if you have some free time. I could go on and on about this talented lady but time is running out so go take a look if you like my shower is calling me to get in and get going.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The Deluttered Dining Room Mini Tour

This room is hard to get a clear picture in because of the light that shines in here but I gave it my best shot and I hope you enjoy the little tour. The picture in the middle is from my cottage, the little bow hook above it extends the boundaries of the grouping a bit which I thought it needed. The sepia toned prints on either side of the main picture are matted in a very pale blue gray that helps lighten up the grouping. The frames are very chippy so I touched them up with some gold paint that I found in the basement, far from perfect. The two little asymmetrical prints on top are old, the one on the left of the girl holding the kitty was from the previous owners of my old house that was left behind by the Dr. that was going into a nursing home and his family didn't want many of his and his wife, who preceded him in deaths, possessions. Very sad but a good reminder to not get too attached to our worldly possessions. Any way, I have kept this sweet picture for years and am happy to be able to have her finally seeing the light of day again.

The white fresh flowers were chosen to lighten the room. With the intensity of the wall color in this room it needs plenty of white. Crystal seemed fitting with the lighter more classic look that seemed to develop as I was rearranging. The crystal lights on the buffet, that are also old pieces that I had rewired years ago, complement the chandelier and the addition of my favorite crystal vase and a bowl, that Mom got me for Christmas years ago, bring some sparkle to the room.

Hope you enjoyed the little tour and thanks for stopping by.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Sorting and Clearing, Before Pictures

For the past month things have been moved around so much here that John says he feels like he's coming into a different house every night. He seems to be tolerating it well and pitching in when a strong arm is needed. As long as he gets a nice hearty hot dinner he seems to remain a happy hubby.

The sorting and clearing started in the dining room. The motivation was two fold, one to get rid of the fake flower arrangements, and two to clear the decks for the holidays. This morning I took pictures of the finished product but my computer wants to reload all 170 pictures instead of the three that I just took and I have no patience or skill to wait or figure out how to only upload the current ones so the reveal will have to wait. Don't get too excited though. The new look is very sparse and in need of those fresh flowers that motivated me in the first place.

My vision of fresh flowers everywhere began when the garden was still full of lush blooms waiting to be picked and lovingly arranged in pretty containers in the house. Well, of course now we have had a fairly harsh frost and there is nothing suitable for display............I have had some luck with my green plants which is astonishing. There is nothing exotic in here, just the plants that I have picked up at the grocery store and divided to make other plants, some out door plants that I have brought in, and today I hope to transplant some of the ivy from my containers outside into a pot that is waiting in the living room.

All of the pictures and accessories in these pictures have been moved either to the basement, upstairs to our bedroom that needed some sprucing up too, or into the kitchen. The plates came off the wall in anticipation of being put into service feeding our holiday guests. Years ago when Martha Stewart was featuring Wedding Band dishes in many of her layouts Maurine and I ran across a huge box of it at a junk shop that I feel in love with. We used to have this thing where as we were shopping around the holidays if one of us saw something we couldn't live with out we would buy it for each other for our Christmas presents. Well that particular year Mo scooped up that box of dirty old china and gave it to me for my Christmas gift. Every few years I seem to feel the need to simplify and out comes the Wedding Band dishes. This year they just seem to fit with the more classic look in the newly decluttered dining room. It is such fun to recall old memories while bringing out different things to dress your home with each season.

It is a good thing to declutter but I am a firm believer in having good storage and keeping it organized with things like dishes, linens, containers for plants, rugs, pillows and wall decor to change around when the mood strikes or the seasons change. Most of my favorite things are far from valuable and have come from junk shop but they bring such joy when they are brought out again after resting in their storage spaces.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

FlyLady Control Journal

Here is the notebook that I have housed my Control Journal in for years and my copy of Marla Cilley's book Sink Reflections.
If you click on this picture you can probably see the sections.
These are my really old cards that I used for more than 20 years before FlyLady came into my life. Pretty simple system that worked for me as a young Mom. Some of the daily cards had to be replaced over the years when they got used for scrap paper by the kids or chewed up by the dog. I love the Friday card where Kyle left me a note saying that he was staying at Alex's again.

John is working today so I plan to tweak my routines a bit and will post them later. Hope everyone has a good weekend.

Friday, November 02, 2007


Does anybody else use the FlyLady system? Since 2001 I have been devoted to Marla Cilley's system of home management using baby steps to overcome chaos. She has a free Internet site that is very user friendly . Her book Sink Reflections was published in 2002. In it she starts out introducing the new Flybabies to her Buzzzzzz Words which includes the words CHAOS which is an acronym for Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome, and Fly & Flying which means Finally Loving Yourself!

You start our with Babysteps where she describes her Internet mentoring system which is not all about cleaning but your first Babystep is starting out with a shiny sink. The next BabyStep is choosing your clothes for tomorrow where she insists that you also include putting on your shoes first thing in the morning.

Once you master the above steps she takes you to getting rid of clutter and introduces you to her next Buzzzzzzzzzzz Word, the 27 Fling Boogie which becomes your tool to declutter your house 27 items at a time. This section is huge since she firmly believes and I concure that you can't organize clutter. Even though it is hard to let go of it you must persevere and get it out and she has many suggestions to ease the pain of parting with our clutter.

The next phase is all about setting up routines starting with the most important bedtime routine then the morning routine. Later I'll post mine that I constantly tweak to accommodate life's ever changing situations. The main premise is to get the things that must be done daily into a routine that allows you to get it over with in the most efficient way possible to give you time to concentrate on the rest of your life knowing that the basics at least will aways get done.

All of your information is then stored in what she calls your Control Journal. This is probably the most useful thing that I have in my home. If I ever had to evacuate for any reason this would be one of the first things that I would grab to take with me.

Next comes the Basic Weekly Plan where every day has a purpose. Monday: Weekly Cleaning Chores, Tuesday: Free day, Wednesday: Making lists and planning next week, Thursday: Grocery and errand day, Friday: Bill paying and miscellaneous day.

Zone cleaning is introduced so that you never have to do spring cleaning again. Chores are spread out over the course of a month and divided into five areas of the house. This is where things get a bit more advanced but so well worth the effort.

The FlyLady system tackles laundry, meal planning, dealing with paper clutter, vacations, the holidays, moving, and the needs of the entire family weather your are a SAHM, SAH?, or a Payroll She, another one of her BuzzzzzzzzzzzzzzWords.

I'll post pictures of my Control Journal and routines later. I love Marla and her crew and highly recommend their free service to anyone that would like to create more time for living their lives free of CHAOS.