“In order to keep a true perspective of one’s importance, everyone should have
a dog that will worship him and a cat that will ignore him.”

--Dereke Bruce

Saturday, July 25, 2009

LOL, as promised!

As an animal lover, one of my very favorite websites is I Can Has Cheezburger ("ICHC"). For those of you who may not be familiar with it, the premise is taking photos of animals and adding captions. The photos can be hysterical, and usually C*R*A*C*K* me up!

It is always changing, too, so I check back frequently, and it never ceases to make me (literally!) LOL!

I will post a few of my recent favorites. ENJOY!





Thursday, July 23, 2009

LOL!



I LOVE to laugh! I love a good cartoon. I love to read, hear and repeat jokes and funny stories, and I love funny movies. I just love to chuckle, chortle, cackle, snicker, titter, giggle, and snort. I don't even mind when I've laughed so hard that my face or sides start to hurt -- it's so worth it!

And since laughter is a well-known "stress reducer", we can all probably use more of it!

Soooooo, in the interest of public health ;o) -- I plan to sprinkle this blog liberally with jokes and other "funnies" (some may even be personal, true stories!) that have made me laugh out loud.

Please watch this space... and enjoy!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

"MMMM, you smell pretty!"


I LOVE fragrance. ALL types of fragrance. Bath salts, shower gels, body lotions, scented powders, body splashes, colognes, perfumes... you name it!

Once when my darling daughter was a teenager, a (super cute!) boy she liked walked up to her, sniffed, smiled and said, "Mmmmm, you smell pretty!" We still smile about that to this day!

So this post is devoted just to that -- "smelling pretty"!

Right now I have four favorite fragrances, and they are pictured above.

Falling in Love: This is a very light, floral, citrus-y *FUN!* fragrance. It's like a lighter version of Victoria's Secret's "Love Spell", remember that?! Think sundresses, strappy sandals, and a sidewalk cafe lunch with your sweetie. That's "Falling in Love".

Pink Sugar: Mmmmm, delicate and innocent, and just like the name says: sweet and sugary. Think curled up on the sofa, after a long bubble bath, in your softest, sweetest cotton PJs.

Burberry: Very hard to describe! Think dress-down Friday at work before a long weekend. It is the ONLY fragrance I have ever worn that doesn't smell like you are "wearing" any "fragrance" at all. It just smells like *you*, only better. Mmmm, a wonderful, unusual, goes-with-anything scent!

Pure Grace: Soap and water clean! Such a fresh, unusual fragrance. A little goes a long way. Think shopping for silver jewelry at Tiffany's with your best girlfriend, wearing your favorite jeans and a skinny tank top. Delightful!

Now, in all honestly -- I must give all the credit to my finding three of these four fragrances to my wonderful niece, Gwynnie. She turned me on to Falling in Love, Pink Sugar, and Pure Grace. (And ever-so-thoughtfully bought me a very fun Pink Sugar set as a surprise giftie!) What would I do without her?! She's not just my niece, she's one of my best friends.

(But hey, I found Burberry on my own!!!) ;o)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

An Attitude of Gratitude

"Appreciation" is something I feel passionately about. A person doesn't need to be *smart* or rich or good-looking to express (and show) appreciation.

It is my strong feeling that, as adults, nobody in this world owes any of us anything! So any time that anyone goes out of his/her way to do something *nice* for us, I believe that appreciation should be shown. Sometimes a simple, but heartfelt "Thank you!" is all that's needed... sometimes a written thank you note... and sometimes, nothing less than a sincere and reciprocal act of thoughtful kindness will do.

The exception, of course, is children... they come into this world totally dependant on their parents for everything... and it is our job (and our joy) to provide that. So I'm not talking about children... I am talking about adults. And as adults, I think that we all need to cultivate an attitude of gratitude.

Lack of gratitude, in my opinion, all comes down to selfishness and rudeness. People who seem to flatly feel that they are OWED things (simply by nature of their breathing air?!) drive me crazy! I just want to shake them and ask, "Who do you think you are?!" The world does NOT owe any of us a living!

Life is so much sweeter and so much more *fun* when you appreciate and acknowledge what people who care about you do for you. Cultivating gratitude and appreciation makes us more loving, warm, LIKABLE people. It strengthens our bonds of family and friends and enriches our lives. And THAT, in my opinion, is a goal well worth striving for!

Diamonds and All Things Sparkly!

From the time I have been very small, I have always been enamored by all things sparkly! It didn't matter if it was a crystal, a rhinestone, a prism, or just a piece of shiny glass... if it caught the eye, reflected the light, and sparkled... I was hooked!

My husband and I were very young when we got married, and we didn't have much money; so the only diamond we could have afforded would have been a tiny little chippy. I decided to hold out and wait until we had enough money to buy a diamond big enough to be seen without a loupe ;o) -- so I wore my mother's tri-color gold wedding band happily (and alone!) for many years.

Flash forward in time... we had a significant anniversary coming up... the kids were educated and (mostly!) grown and the house was (mostly!) paid off... and it seemed like the time had come to finally get that Ultimate Sparklie that I always dreamed of.

So, I began to look around, research and learn all I could about those glorious chunks of carbon we so lovingly call diamonds. And believe me, there is a LOT to learn!

First of all, most people seem to think that "a diamond is a diamond is a diamond..." and really, nothing could be further from the truth! There is so much to consider... the Famous 4 C's of course (color, cut, clarity, carat weight) --but so much more!

I knew I wanted a round diamond... timeless, classic, and beautiful -- rounds never go out of style. And I knew I wanted at least a full carat... but the more above that I could get, the better! (Yes, I admit... I am a shameless lover of diamond SIZE!)

My research took me to every jewelry store in the tri-state area (and I'm not kidding!) ... and I was surprised to keep seeing the same two things over and over: exorbitant prices and the mediocre *sparkle* and beauty of most of the stones. I did not want a dull, milky-looking stone, or a yellow(ish) one... I did NOT want a diamond with visible inclusions... I wanted a big, bright, white, lively, sparkly diamond at a reasonable, "do-able" price. Was that asking too much?!

Then I found Pricescope.com . Who knew that online, internet vendors had gorgeous stones at much lower prices than B&M (brick and mortar) jewelry stores?! But wait... wasn't making such a HUGE purchase "sight unseen" awfully risky? Stupid, even?! *Nope!* Come to learn that reputable internet diamond vendors offer very personalized service, all sorts of information and images, copies of the grading report ("cert"), and very reasonable no-questions-asked return policies. Not to mention that most reputable vendors also offer a full lifetime trade-up policy (which means that you can upgrade any time to a larger or more expensive stone, and get your initial purchase price fully credited to your new purchase.) WooHoo, I was in Diamond Heaven!

So... I finally found my diamond -- a gorgeous 1.53 round brilliant (that's just a nudge over 1 1/2 carats). I had it set into a custom diamond and platinum setting... and it made my heart sing!



And I wore it happily for... awhile! There was just one small problem... the darn thing kept shrinking right before my eyes! When I first got it, it looked HUGE... but every day, it looked a little smaller than the day before. (I have since learned that I was afflicted with an insidious syndrome called DSS, "Diamond Shrinkage Syndrome"!)

There is apparently only one cure for DSS... and thanks to that handy, dandy trade-up policy I mentioned earlier, I was able to upgrade to a KILLER (hearts and arrows, AGS-0) 2.36 (that's just a bit under 2 1/2 carats) round brilliant, set in a new custom (fishtail pave) diamond and platinum mounting.

Let me just say that I LOVE my beautiful little piece of carbon and wear it happily every day! (Yes, yes... it still tries to shrink on me, too... but the next truly significant/noticeable jump would have to be to over 3 carats... and even at the best internet vendor prices, well... realistically, that probably just ain't EVER gonna happen!)

So, it's the biggest "extravagance" in my otherwise quite practical and simple life... but OH! I do so LOVE and enjoy it!

Here are a few pictures of my little bauble...















And here are some of my favorite internet vendors (some of them also maintain a physical store, as well): Diamond Ideals, Quest, Whiteflash, Brian Gavin Diamonds, Good Old Gold, Wink Jones and High Performance Diamonds.

Tell them Lynn sent you! ;o)

Quilts...


For as long as I can remember, I have always LOVED quilts. There is just something so cozy and so *personal* about a quilt. I love the quote, "A blanket warms the body, but a quilt warms the soul".

I love the history of quiltmaking. There's just something heartwarming about thinking of our great-grandmothers using small, leftover scraps of fabric out of necessity, and turning them into useful practical, BEAUTIFUL works of art out of love, each one unique and telling its own story. That SO appeals to me!

Quiltmaking used to be, of course, an art of total handwork. Each top was meticulously (and laboriously!) pieced by hand, then the top, back, and middle (batting) would be quilted together in small, delicate, perfect (and beautiful!) hand stitching.

But it's a different world nowadays, and most of us work outside the home, and lead very busy lives. So today's quilters usually piece their tops by machine; and machine "quilting" (the actual stitching that holds the top, back and batting together) has become an art form in its own right, as well.

I learned to quilt about 11 years ago, when I was admiring a quilt that a dear friend named Laura (Lollie) had just made. She asked me, "Would you like to learn to quilt?" I said "OHYESPLEASE!" before she barely had the question out!

My first quilt (under Lollie's excellent tutelage) was a simple "Quilt-in-a-Day" log cabin quilt, with inexpensive fabric from the local fabric shop. It wasn't very big (and looking back now, it wasn't even very beautiful!) -- but I LOVED it, and I LOVED making it. I still have it to this day, and I probably always will!



It was from this book by Eleanor Burns, which is an older book, but still an excellent resource. We really did make the entire quilt top in one day!


And thus an addiction was born! I finished that quilt and could barely wait to start another. My sewing machine was humming day and night. My husband laughed and said I was a "chain quilter"!

In the years since, I have made 35 quilts. I have given some away (I believe that quilts are the ultimate gift of love!), but I have never sold any.

Here are a few of the quilts I have made, and a little about each one.

This quilt was another "early" one, and I made it especially for the living room of our home before this one. It is a "Flying Geese" pattern. I had it hanging on the wall, on a shaker peg rail with hooks, that went all around the room.





Here is was on the wall in our old living room:


Notice the smaller quilt on the ottoman, too.
That was a fun (and fairly quick) project!

This next quilt (like many others of mine) is a Thimbleberries quilt. It is made of thick, soft flannels, and is one of my favorite napping quilts, especially during our long, cold winter months! I get so many compliments on it, and it was really one of the easiest quilts I have ever done. It's just mostly fabric STRIPS!



This next quilt is my Farm Animal Quilt. It's my 2nd favorite quilt, and I love it because it is just such a happy, whimsical quilt. It was one of my first attempts at "blanket stitch (machine) applique". For interest's sake, none of the "pinwheels" in this quilt are exactly the same.



This next quilt is a full/queen size, and was made for our guest room. It's another Thimbleberries pattern, using mostly Thimbleberries fabrics.


Here is a rustic, antique ladder that is in a corner in my living room, displaying 5 of my quilts. I love to look at it, but every now and then, I do take each quilt down, open it up, wrap up in it... and enjoy it all over again!

This next quilt is another napping quilt. (Can you tell I like to nap?!) It's my "Snowman" quilt, and it, too, is made of all flannels. The back of the quilt is a soft, cozy, micro-fleece -- it is simply delightful to curl up in on cold evenings! Can you see the swirling pattern of the quilting stitches? Looks like swirling snow!



This next quilt is called a "Bull's Eye" pattern and it is my All. Time. Favorite. Quilt. EVER. Here's why... not only is it beautiful (so soft and vintage looking!) but it was done as a "buddy quilt" with Lollie. She made 70 squares (using her favorite fabrics) and I made 70 squares (using my favorite fabrics) and then we cut all of our squares in half, and traded half of our squares with each other. So we each have a quilt like this -- and it is a beautiful, daily reminder of my wonderful, lifelong friend, Lollie!




Quiltmaking has also taught me some valuable life lessons, because making quilts requires what I call "stick-to-it-iveness"! One of my life's mottos may well be, "Little by little, great things will be accomplished." If you stick with things, piece by piece, you will get them done! And there is just little else as fulfilling to me as finishing a beautiful quilt.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Our Home


Welcome To Our Home...


First, let me start out by saying that we LOVE our country home! We have lived here 4 years now, and it is just perfect for us.

It's just a modest 1500 SF Cape Cod, on 1.1 acres, built in the 1950s -- but we love everything about it -- the location, the size, the layout and the style.



When we bought the house, the kitchen was the only thing that we didn't LOVE; so from the beginning, we knew that we would ultimately want to change it. So we recently completed our HUGE kitchen remodel... 90% do-it-yourself, too. I am so happy and thankful that my sweet husband is so darn talented; I swear he can do almost anything!

Although it took almost a year in "planning", the actual *work* only took 3 months. (And we both have day jobs!) Now it is all done and we are simply thrilled with the results!

Here are a few "BEFORE" pictures:







The Plans...




Some "in progress" shots... (OH, the ***MEMORIES***!!!)






The (old) wall between the kitchen and the dining room had to go!






We should have gotten Boo a little hard hat -- he was never far from the action!






Here is one of our granite slabs ("Santa Cecelia Light"). We hand-picked them from Mont Granite in Solon, OH, and our countertops were fabricated in NY.


FINALLY, on a snowy day in January, our Showplace cabinets arrived!
The rebuilding began! *YAY!*


Boxes filled our downstairs! This was just a FEW of them.


Things seemed to happen quickly now - it was so fun and exciting!






Boo inspects the cabinet quality, and approves!




The appliances and the granite arrived, the floor was installed,
and soon we were... *DONE!*













Here's a little mouse I stenciled by Boo's food dish.
(There are actually several similar "meeces" throughout our home!)


Boo approves!


Our "Coffee Corner"... we ADORE our Keurig coffee maker!

(For more information, check out: http://www.keurig.com/ )

Our dining room:


From dining room into living room:


During the entire process (from "planning" to "DONE!") I found the forum, Garden Web (where I post as "Tiskers") extremely helpful; I totally recommend it. Those people over there are nothing less than amazing! Please check it out at:
Garden Web Home Forums or The Kitchen Forum.


You can find a much more detailed account of our entire renovation (plus lots more pictures) in the Finished Kitchen Blog.