Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Lone Silo Farm

For years we have journeyed about 35 minutes west from our shore town to a Christmas tree farm in New Egypt, NJ.
There is something I find especially magical about Lone Silo Farm and in my eyes, no other place will do.

The past two years have been especially hectic and my husband has traveled here alone to cut down our tree.
He must have looked pretty sad and sorry to the families wandering around together.

Those days are behind us now and on Sunday we drove out there together to hunt down what is to be the masterpiece of our Christmas Decor.

There was some minor incidents where one child was annoying the other on the way out to the fields.

But if you irritate others you usually get what's coming to you.

Of course there are other ways to deal with unruly and disagreeable children.

After close to an hour of searching we found her!
Did you know that finding the perfect tree is in some ways similar to finding the perfect mate?
1. You have to make sure you can put up with them for an extended period of time.
2. You want to know if they will age well and NOT lose a lot of hair needles.
3. Do they smell nice? This is VERY important.
And finally:
4. When you dress them up, will they look amazing???

I love how solitary the silo looks from every angle.
Such beauty.

As the men wrap the tree and help get it on top of the car there is hot cider waiting which just may be my favorite part.

Where do you get your tree?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Christmas Garland

Christmas has long since not been my favorite holiday. In fact, I blogged about my disdain for the superficiality that overcomes so many people around this holiday just last year both here and here. I attribute much of my disgust to the many years I have worked in retail. Christmas time has always seemed to bring out the worst in  people and working in a customer service based job with ridiculously extended hours dealing with multitudes of cranky people is enough to make anyone into a Scrooge.

That being said, I would be lying if I told you I didn't pay any attention all day Friday to hear how Black Friday  sales were going. I was texting friends who were working to see if it was as crazy as last year and popping onto MSN and CNN on and off throughout the day. After 22 of years working every single one of them, I suppose old habits die hard. When the reports of shootings, muggings and pepper spraying came across, the Scrooge in me instantly reappeared as I read and watched with pure disgust. Seeing YouTube clips of people pushing and shoving, trying to rip items out of someone else's hands left me wondering why we even bother at all.

I had promised myself that this year I would approach Christmas differently than I have in a very long time. I want to rekindle my love for the holiday that makes my daughter's eyes twinkle and my curmudgeonly teen son smile a giddy, child like smile. This year, instead of my husband going all alone to cut down our tree like he has had to for the past two years, we would go as a family. Rather than slapping the tree together and putting out a few decorative things (because putting them away is way too much work) this year I would decorate the house both inside and out with the same fervor I used to. This year will be different.

Sunday was the first day I left the house to go to a store. I had come up with my plan to decorate both house and tree and needed some garlands along with a few other things. My daughter and I headed over to our local Michael's Craft store and much to my surprise it was jam packed! As I walked through the doors I could feel myself stiffen up as I saw the swarm of people. I needed a shopping cart which made navigating the crowd more difficult. Anytime I stopped to look at something someone was either squeezing by or leaning in making it grossly uncomfortable to shop and taking away any concentration I had and needed.

I know I looked like a nasty witch trying to shop and sighing audibly when people came too close. Just to look at the garlands I had to keep circling around the fixtures again and again because there was no way to comfortably stop and shop. Aggravating. But I am as stubborn as I am wordy and I would be damned if I left without the things I needed.

After stalking the garland fixtures about 6 times I finally spotted the perfect one! Unfortunately, it was only one. To fulfill it's purpose, I needed one more. I went back to stalking in case there was one hiding behind another. As I was looking an older woman stopped me and commented about how much she loved the one in my hand. I told her how it was perfect and I just needed one more because only one wouldn't do.

Another crowd surge forced me to head to other parts of the store and grab the other things I needed. When I was done I headed back for one more hopeful search. As I made my way around I saw the woman from before holding another one of my garland!
"Oh my goodness!" I said to her "You found them! Where are they?"
"This one was just hiding behind these others." she replied "I don't see anymore."
I was already frantically pawing through praying there would be just one more hanging there.
There wasn't.
I shook my head and said aloud, "Oh well. They're all gone."
Just as I turned away the I could see the woman hesitate a second then she held hers out to me.
"Have this one." she said.
"No...I couldn't....are you sure?" I didn't put up too much fuss....I wanted it!
"Yes." she responded. "Merry Christmas!"
I asked her if she was sure again about 5 times and she just kept saying, "Yes. Take it. Merry Christmas."
I thanked her profusely, took the garland and found myself in a state of semi shock. For all of the awful things I hear and see, I was reminded that there are still some truly amazing people in this world. People who are the Spirit of Christmas through their actions and their words. Someone I don't even know, a total stranger warmed my heart and helped me remember how special this holiday truly can be.

As for the garland, it is hung on my dining room mirror and looks just as fabulous as I thought it would. As for that generous woman, she will be in my thoughts and well wishes every time I look at it.

Be not forgetful to entertain strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
Hebrews 13:2

Friday, November 25, 2011

Time Off

I had no intentions of taking the past week "off" from blogging. In fact I simply couldn't find the time to sit for a few moments on Monday at all. The next thing I knew it was Tuesday and we had guests arriving to spend Thanksgiving with us. Wednesday was spent running a few last minute errands, prepping side dishes and brining the turkey. I was up at 5:30 Thursday morning to get the bird to room temperature before roasting and assemble and cook the rest of my meal. We shared our Thanksgiving with 8 family members we love and adore and I have to say it was one of the best ones yet.
It was good for me to unplug a bit. Between all my Thanksgiving planning and entertaining, I have been working on a project that is a lot more work than I originally anticipated. I have been pressuring myself to get it done and in turn it has only stressed me out. As I lay in bed the other night thinking of all I have to do and sticking to my self appointed "time frame" I could feel anxiety taking over. I reminded myself that this is a project and when I get it done, it gets done. No one is waiting with baited breath for this to be completed and I am just causing my own distress. 
Ultimately I decided to walk away from the computer and all the nonsense I feel I must do and just live in the moment. No picture taking and documenting every little thing, no blogging, sweatpants on by 4pm each afternoon and me dancing around the kitchen listening to Christmas music while I cooked to my little heart's content. The pictures of these moments are in my mind which has quieted down and unwound.
I am thankful for this time off from work and am "working" really hard to keep it permanent. Just not at the cost of stress ~ because I left that behind the day I walked away from my job.
I hope all who celebrate enjoyed their holiday and took a moment to reflect on the wonderful blessings in our lives. 
I know I did.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Ones That Inspire Us

Inspiration comes from everywhere. We all know that. Be it from glossy magazine pages to someone we pass on the street, there are amazing people, places and things that catch our attention time and time again. I believe what keeps the world evolving is taking little pieces of these things we see and weaving them into the fabric of our own lives. Mixing these borrowed bits and pieces into our own preconceived notions are what make each of us such unique individuals..
Reading blogs is a huge source of inspiration to me, from the uber bloggers with jaw dropping style, jetsetting from city to city living their fabulous existence, to the small town fashionista who may only have the means to shop secondhand and may have never been to places like NYC or LA. Each woman inspiring in her own way. Most of the blogs I favor are written by women whose style I would consider somewhat different than my own. These are the blogs that have me clamoring to the keyboard every morning. It isn't because I will covet every single thing they are wearing, and perhaps we don't always have the same exact taste or interests, but there is an aura about them that I find fascinating. Appealing. 
I don't mean for that to sound creepy or stalkerish because I say it in the purest way possible. Those that lead an elegantly simple existence appeal to me the most.  As I continue to evolve and change, so do the things that inspire me.
This oufit was inspired by one of my favorite bloggers. She strikes me as confident, independent ~ someone who knows who she is. From her photos, her life appears to be the idyllic small town existence the newer me craves. From her simply wearing a hooded sweatshirt with a skirt the other day, she reminded me that I had purchased this cowl neck sweatshirt to wear with a button up last summer. Two different takes from one similar thought. These are the reasons I come back for more.
As I type this I realize that my fascination is because perhaps we are not really that different at all. That once we scratch the surface we have more similarities than I think. By sharing small glimpses into our lives through blogging, we are creating more common denominators than we realize. In some ways we are crossing what could otherwise be dividing lines. I think if we all took a moment to consider blogs that fascinate us most it is because we see a piece of ourselves, or the piece we are wishing for in these others. It's just a thought.

Are you more inspired with those who have tastes you consider similar to your own, or are you fascinated by people you think are different? 

sweatshirt: express
button up: jcrew
skirt: ny&co
tights: express 
boots: coach
glasses: express
bracelet & ring: tiffany's
watch: citizen

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Brain Dead

I just tried to log into my email and I can't remember my password. Never mind the fact that I was in there less than five minutes ago and just needed to go back and look at something again.
Do you ever do that?
Have something so ingrained in your mind that you do it all the time on auto pilot but in that moment you stop to actually think about it your mind goes blank?
I do.
It seriously makes me nuts when it happens. It scares me as well. Alzheimer's is a reality in this family. We lost both my grandmother and one of her sisters to the disease. I do a great job exercising my mind with tons of reading, socializing and Scrabble playing. Still, I can't help but wonder if it is in vain. No definitive measures to halt or delay the disease are known. So what is one to do?
Although there is no proof that diet and exercise can keep symptons at bay, it certainly can't hurt to ensure that both are put to practice. Healthy living is always a priority. As I mentioned, challenging the mind should help keep the brain on it's toes. But what to do when you forget a silly password that you key in multiple times a day?
Take it as your cue to walk away from the computer...you've probably spent too much time on there already today!

Do you worry about things like this when you have a minor memory lapse?

ballerinas: bandolino

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Flying Solo

On Saturday my husband and I were out running errands one of which was dropping off 3 shopping bags full of children's books our own kids have outgrown. Being the literary junkie I am, purging any books is a painful process. We sorted them into three categories. One pile of delicious hardcovers to give to their little cousins, one pile of sentimental titles and classic tomes for them to share with their own children someday. Finally the third pile was the book fair paperbacks and assorted SpongeBob, Pokemon, and Captain Underpants stories. The ones I could bear to part with. I always donate to my favorite thrift store that supports our local hospital. I have been frequenting it since I was about 15 years old and you can bet it has a special place in my heart.
After we pulled in and were gathering the bags I asked hubby if he wouldn't mind me poking around a bit. He said he already assumed I would want to and that was fine with him. As I meandered through the racks he was standing right behind me. He moved along with me just patiently waiting, hands in pockets or playing with his phone. It took me less than 10 minutes for me to abort the mission and just say "let's go".
Knowing he was standing there was too distracting for me and I couldn't properly look. I told him this and he looked surprised and responded that he was just fine standing there. We left anyway.
I was thinking about it later in the day and came to the conclusion that I am just a solo shopper. I have always found it to be a mystery of the universe when I see men standing patiently outside a fitting room holding the handbag of their lady friend. Do they enjoy just standing there? Doesn't the woman feel rushed knowing he's waiting? Are there men out there that really enjoy shopping that much? Is his taste in clothing that good that you need his opinion? See how befuddled it makes me? When we are in a mall, you can assuredly find my husband in the closest Apple store. If he even crosses the threshold to a women's apparel store it is because he is coming to find me and tell me he is bored out of his mind.
I never go to a mall with girlfriends either. In fact, after many years of working in one, I think I trained myself to shop alone. All my shopping was done quickly on breaks or after working all day. I need to be alone with my thoughts to properly decide on an item and/or rationalize it. Having someone else there is usually more distracting.
Now don't get me wrong. I will never turn down a chance to hang out with a girlfriend and browse through a shop or two. We all need that girl time. But if you see me out with my game face on digging through a rack mercilessly, then you know I'm flying solo.

Do you prefer to shop alone or do you need the company of someone else?

P.S. The jacket in today's outfit was a closet dive/DIY to give it new life. I wore it last here with it's original trim on it. Since I am so over ruffles in just about every shape and form, I removed all the embellishment and trim so this lovely little number would finally see some love. It's perfect now! 
P.P.S. The shirt is a JCrew new arrival I ordered using rewards and a giftcard so guess how much it was??? Free! Now that's something this unemployed girl enjoys!

jacket: old ny&co
shirt: jcrew
jeans: express
boots: coach
necklace: express
bracelet: limited
sunglasses: banana republic

Monday, November 14, 2011

Just Another...

Is it really you again?
I don't seem to take note of each day of the week anymore. It seems to me that we zoom from Monday straight to Friday and everything in between becomes a blur. Time flies by faster than it ever has and while the week seems to drag for the hubby and the kids, I feel as if I go to bed on Monday night and I wake up and it's Friday.
This past weekend was low key and lovely. It involved lots of dog walking, a visit to our local fish market, cooking an amazing salmon dinner, donating books the children have outgrown, making jambalaya for the very first time (YUM!) and tons of football watching for the men folk. Since the television captivates for most of Sunday, I took the time to work on an exciting project that I get to share with you all very soon!

What did you do this weekend?

turtleneck, shirt, and vest: jcrew
jeans: express
boots: style&co
clutch: kenneth cole
sunglasses: banana republic
ring: limited

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Fashion Show {Trump National in Bedminster NJ}

When Carly contacted me a while back and asked if I would be able to help her with a fashion show she was coordinating, it took me approximately 1.2 seconds to eagerly reply YES!

Carly organized and styled a show for an exclusive private school in Northern NJ.
When I say exclusive, to send your child from PreK through 12th grade is roughly the same cost per year as an expensive private college.
Broken down, if your child went every year from the start to finish of their school years it would roughly be over a million in primary education.
Hard to fathom. 

The models were moms of the students as well as faculty members.
Carly styled 4 looks for each woman, ending with a breathtaking bridal gown as the finale.
To say she is amazingly talented and stylish doesn't even begin to describe this uber cool chick that I am fortunate to call my friend.

There were over 250 seats placed in the ballroom.
Once the show started, it was so packed that women were standing along the entire perimeter as well!

Fabulous Carly taking care of some last minute details.

The show was held at the Trump National Golf & Country Club in picturesque Bedminster, NJ.
It was a simply lovely venue.

If the view of the countryside from the grand foyer wasn't awe inspiring enough, how about looking down at the parking lot and seeing nothing but a sea of Bentley's and luxury cars?
There was more wealth in one place than I may have ever seen and equally as jaw dropping.
(I'll take the black Bentley on the right, thank you very much....)

The show went off without a hitch and the crowd loved it!
Models and women from the audience were clamoring after the show to buy the looks Carly had so effortlessly put together.
Women were randomly appearing in the changing room to ask about the clothing they just.had.to.have.
With Carly's innate sense of style it is no surprise this show was such a success!
Thanks Carly for having me along for the ride ~ I had a blast!

*majority of clothing is the first pics is from The Red Toad Boutique*

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

My Best Life

Over the weekend I finished reading The Bucolic Plague by Josh Kilmer-Purcell who is one half of the Fabulous Beekman Boys.
I have never watched the show, but after reading an article in a magazine about them and having an deep affinity for people who throw out the 9-5 life in search of something better, I headed off to the library to grab his book.

The book is about how Josh and his partner Brent literally stumbled upon a mansion for sale in the Mohawk Valley of New York and buy it on a whim to use as a weekend escape from their NYC lives.
Josh dreams of becoming a gentleman farmer leaving the hustle and bustle of New York to permanently settle in the countryside.
He talks about his search to find his "best life".
I found this so captivating because in a way that is what I have been doing too.

Throughout my life I have never been fully content because I have always been dreaming about what is in the future.
Although I loved my first home, I used to sit there and dream of a slightly bigger, more comfortable house.
One in which all my furniture would be new and not hand me downs.
I was pretty happy with my job back then, but couldn't help but think of how fabulous it would be to have a career that had me hopping flights to different cities living a much more exciting existence. 

Fast forward 16 years and I am living in a house I dreamed of way back then.
It is no mansion, but a modest home that fits our family perfectly.
It is filled with beautiful things I worked hard to own and I cherish immensely.
I had also found that job that had me flying around every few months from city to city.
Yet, I still wasn't satisfied.
How could this be???
Wasn't I living my Best Life?
The one I dreamed about so many years ago?

As I have grown older, I suppose my idea of my Best Life has changed.
Just as I have changed.
No longer did I desire to travel and work towards some fabulous career that would keep me away from my family and all the things I worked so hard to have.
My Best Life now is to just be.
To be still and appreciate all that I have.

I think what keeps life interesting is when it is a constant journey.
A journey of self discovery and exploration.
A ladder of sorts that we keep climbing.
I know I am constantly evolving and changing.
To stop doing so, to me, would mean I have stopped living.
And then how would I find my way to my Best Life?

What is your idea of your Best Life?

jean jacket: yuka jeans (old)
dress: express
tights: ny&co
boots: style & co
bracelets: limited & express
earrings: express
sunglasses: banana republic