Summer bucket list | J’s House

Summer bucket list | J’s House

I’m sure those that aren’t teachers are not counting the days until summer.  Parents are probably lining up daycare and sending in last minute camp registration forms. Although I envy flexible schedules of those in the business world and the opportunity to have lunchtime meetings at real restaurants, there is nothing like the last day of school.  Nothing.  As a friend put it, “It’s better than Christmas morning!”

Yesterday we caught a glimpse of summer amid all the rain we’ve been having and we decided to venture out on a group walk.  In between all the complaining about how far we were going, it was rather enjoyable to get the kids out in nature and take in a non-scheduled afternoon together.

Also in anticipation of summer, I am creating a series of bucket lists and I’m kicking them off with the projects I want to accomplish at J’s house.

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Of course — the number one priority over there is the powder room.  With our busy weekends, this project slipped by me and I have no other excuses.  Little things like potted flowers will get done right away, but the bigger projects take some time.  Here are a few of the top tasks on the list:

1. Powder Room Refresh. The brainstorming of this project started a while ago and it got put on hold because of schedules.  As I said, it is one of the first things I’m going to tackle this summer.

If you missed the rest of the posts, you can catch them here.

Powder Room Refresh | Wallpaper Samples and a Decision

Powder Room Refresh | Vision Boards

Powder Room Brainstorming

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2. Paint front door and shutters. The green on his door and shutters have since faded from its vibrancy, so I’m thinking a glossy black will be just the touch it needs.  That, and two new planters and a new mat (and possibly a light – he doesn’t know that yet!) will enhance his entrance way completely.

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3. Deck and Patio Refresh | Retractable Awning. I posted about this a few weeks ago.  I am really excited to get the ball rolling on this one because I think the addition of the awning will make the space more useful for everyone, especially the kids.

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4. Minor Landscaping. I want to plant some hostas in some of the shady areas of his beds to fill in empty spaces.  They grow nice and hardy and live through the summer into the fall.  He’s also going to have his lawn guy cut back the bushes by the door for a better view of the front of his house.  I’m a firm believer in less is more, and the smaller bushes will add to the beauty of his front entranceway.  Don’t mind the weeds!

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Summer is going to fly by, so between his home and mine, I have my work cut out for me.  Soon I will post about the ideas I have for a summer bucket list at my house!  Enjoy the week!  xo

A few things

A few things

Friday!  Woo hoo!  Two more Mondays of school after this weekend (not including Memorial Day)!  I’m not happy at all…. 😉

This weekend will be a little more restful than the last few.  Tonight we are just hanging and tomorrow we are having friends over.  Some of my girlfriends haven’t gotten the opportunity to really get to know J, so tomorrow will be the night.  I’m planning on keeping it rather simple by making a recipe I featured a while back on the blog.  It’s the perfect meal for a crowd and easy to prepare ahead.  If you haven’t checked it out yet, Mimi’s Chicken and White Wine Casserole is a winner every time.

On to things I am loving and coveting lately…

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This was a good blog post from Cupcakes and Cashmere about dealing with anxiety, written exclusively from a psychologist’s point of view.  The blog’s author has openly expressed her dealings with anxiety and I find it comforting to know that I’m not alone.  Not that I want others to suffer, but anxiety is something that many can relate to and I’m finding it more and more common for people, particularly women, to open up about their struggles.  Mental health is becoming more and more transparent in today’s society and it’s a real thing.  If you’ve read my posts, I’ve mentioned my anxiety dealings a few times on the blog and it’s an ongoing battle.  You can catch them here:

Less Anxiety | More Kindness

How I Learned to Deal with Imperfection By Asking One Simple Question

Living Intentionally

 

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I recently read a novel with my class and they were sad when it ended.  But rest assured, we started a new one and they are equally excited.  The two are nothing alike, the first one was based during WWII and this one during the 1800’s, but their differences are what makes each one special.  Tuck Everlasting, our current read, is about a young girl who accidentally meets a family that is immortal from drinking water from a magical spring.  This family does everything in their power to make her understand that their immortality is a curse rather than a blessing.  She ultimately has to make the decision whether to drink the water and live forever, or choose a life of growing older and eventually dying.  The kids have many questions and the discussions have been awesome.  This book is more advanced for a 4th grader, but we are reading it together and discussing as we go along.

 

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The other day a few colleagues and I were talking about the dreaded fanny pack.  Some love them and some hate them.  Their debate was escalated when I told them of their recent comeback and they hardly believed it.  So here you are girls, the new and improved fanny pack complete in a multitude of colors, shapes and designers.  Don’t believe me?  Read more about this controversial trend in this article from Harper’s Bazaar.

 

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I can’t believe I didn’t share this, but a few weeks ago we celebrated Cinco de Mayo at school.  I made this version of a Tres Leches cake for the luncheon.  Of all the recipes I’ve tried in the past, this one is by far my favorite.

 

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The other week I mentioned about needing a dress for a Bat Mitzvah in NYC so my daughter and I headed over to White House|Black Market to check out their selection.  The salesperson was extremely helpful by recommending a few styles to try.  While perusing, my daughter specifically made me try on this one, and she was right!  At first, I was unsure of the heavy fabric weight and the full skirt, but the two piece ensemble was perfect for my event.  I received many compliments on it all night and I was comfortable.  It even left plenty of room for dessert!

My few things were random, but my love of Fridays is full.  Have a wonderful weekend! xo

I’m still here!

Countdown

Sometimes life gets so hectic it’s hard to keep up, while other times it seems as if everything flows nice and smooth.  My life right now is the former.  Weekends have been filled with social gatherings, games, trips, and events and I haven’t had time to get shit done.  Besides this blog, I feel like my house is falling to the wayside as well and it’s driving me nuts.  Part of me is bothered by the fact that I don’t have a lot of time, but the other part of me is going with the flow.  I’m thankful to have these opportunities to be with family and friends and to have fun on my down time even if I’m tired on Monday morning.

It’s also the end of the school year.  18 days to be exact.  I’ve been coming home every day mentally, emotionally and physically exhausted.  Working out has taken a backseat to rest and recuperation after my long days, and I’ve been eating way too much chocolate.  I just can’t do it all and I feel like I’m barely keeping it together.

I know in a few short weeks I will have all the time in the world to get myself organized and back to feeling normal.  Exercise will commence.  Healthy eating and meal prep will get done, and my summer project list will be started.  More on that soon!

So for the time being, bear with me.  This momma just needs a break.  Check back on Friday for my “A Few Things” post featuring items which I’ve been loving and coveting lately.  xo

A Few Things, recently:

April 27th

April 20th

April 13th

Pasta Morales

Pasta Morales

This is one recipe I forgot about and I’m not sure why.  My mom makes it from time to time and every chance I have it, I forget how delicious it is and how easy it is to put together.

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Side story: Years back, my mom used to work in a medical office and the pharmaceutical  sales reps would bring lunch for the doctors and office staff in hope to gain their business.  One rep named Jose Morales brought this dish and everyone immediately fell in love.  My mom got the recipe and it has been a staple in our family ever since.  Although I am not sure if there is a proper name for it, we have always called it “Pasta Morales” in honor of Jose himself.

Like I said, I had forgotten about this dish until Sunday when I was trying to figure out what to make for dinner.  I like to make dinners on Sundays that could be eaten as quick meals during the week.  Since J has the kids the next few nights, I doubled the batch and we now have plenty for all of us. And after one quick taste of the cooked chicken, J’s response was, “Wow.”

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Note:  This recipe is so versatile….It could be easily made ahead, it’s great for a big crowd, it can be eaten cold or warmed, and is sure to be a crowd pleaser.

Pasta Morales

1 pound rotini pasta, cooked

3-4 chicken breasts, cut into small pieces

Broccoli florets, cut into small pieces (I did about 1 1/2 cups)

1 red pepper, cut into small pieces

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 cup white wine vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste

2-3 cloves minced garlic

2 T. Old Bay seasoning

Steps: 

1. Mix together the oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, garlic and Old Bay.  Add chicken and marinate at least an hour, or overnight.

2.  Cook pasta according to directions.

3.  Steam broccoli and peppers until soft.

4.  In a medium sized pot, cook chicken and marinade until done.  Add steamed veggies and cooked pasta and combine.

5.  Serve with a salad or fresh bread.

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That’s it!  Essentially, aside from the pasta, it’s a one pot dish.  Enjoy!  xo

 

A few things

A few things

Sometimes the craziest weeks go quickly and sometimes they drag on and on.  This one seemed to go relatively fast and I’m not complaining.  This weekend, J and I are heading down to DC to visit friends.  I am going to run the National Women’s 8K with our friend Alycia, and I’m a little nervous.  Let’s be honest…I’ve been running, but not “training,” so run is the key word.  There’s quite a difference.  So my plan is to run a decent pace over the 4.9-ish mile race and finish respectively.  No PR’s or crazy times for me.

Besides that, here are a few things I’ve been loving and coveting lately…

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J recently was in Amsterdam for a work trip and brought me back these amazing chocolate bars.  So far, the middle one was my favorite!

 

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I love to find obscure indie films on Netflix that have in depth plots and complex characters.  Last week I talked about the movie “Locked Up,” and this week it’s “Kodachrome.”  Starring Ed Harris and Jason Sudeikis, Kodachrome is semi-based off of a true story where people were flocking to a small camera shop in Kansas to have their remaining roles of Kodachrome film developed before expiring completely.  Harris plays the dying, infamous photographer and absent father of Sudeikis.  Sudeikis was contacted by Harris’s nurse to deliver the news of his father’s ailing health.  Harris’s last wish was to take the trek to Kansas to have these special roles of film developed before his death.  This film did not have the action of Locked Up, but Sudeikis showed me a different side of his acting abilities and Harris, well, he is always good.  It’s a bittersweet journey of lost time and memories made.

 

The other night I was at Barnes and Noble for my daughter’s school choir night.  Before the performance I found two interesting books for my summer reading list.  “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning” looked like an interesting read.  It was all about decluttering your home and life.  “This Is Me” by Chrissy Metz caught my attention.  For being in the business a long time and finally breaking through with a huge role, Metz tells her story and how she got to where she is now.  I love her show, so I’m pretty sure that I will like this book.

Happy Friday and enjoy your weekend!  xo

#redball project

#redball project

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US born artist Kurt Perschke’s RedBall Project came to Bethlehem over the weekend and we popped over to check it out.  Considered as “the world’s longest-running street art work,” this huge ball travels the globe and is installed in various places within the city it visits.  Usually wedged between structures, it never stays in the same spot for more than a day.  The inflated ball measures approximately 15 feet in diameter and is quite neat in person.  Check it out!

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Happy Monday! xo

a few things

a few things

Another week in the books.  Starting our new novel in school, drinks with a friend, and quality time with J made it a decent one.  Tonight I have a date night with my daughter and I think we are going to dinner and Home Goods.  Tomorrow we are hitting the indoor pool for some lap swimming and then to dinner with J’s family.  Sunday includes the viewing of a local community theater’s version of “Seussical” with the girls and dinner with my people.  Should be a good one!

On to things I am loving and coveting lately…

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Last weekend I spent the day in NYC with a good “newish” friend.  As she put it, it felt as if we were on our first date.  We walked almost ten miles around the city and talked the whole time.  It was so nice and just what I needed!  We hit a few flea markets based on Eddie Ross’s recommendations, including the one in Hell’s Kitchen and another downtown.  While perusing, I purchased the above two prints.  One is an original designer’s sketch from the 40’s and the other is a tiny watercolor in a cool frame.  I think the little painting will look great in just the right grouping on a wall.  I have to reframe the drawing, but I am still unsure of their permanent homes.

 

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I watched a few movies on Netflix while J was gone last weekend and holy cow…..this one was INSANE.  I mean, really bat shit crazy.  If you like graphic films, try watching Locked Up.  It’s about a young girl who received an unfair punishment and had to serve time in a Thailand prison.  What happens in that prison will leave you on the edge of your seat.  This was definitely not my normal genre since I’m usually a Hallmark type of girl, but it had me glued.  Warning: There is fighting, blood, language, disturbing scenes, etc.  Watch at your own risk!

 

In a few weeks we have a Bat Mitzvah to attend in NYC.  Based on the invitation alone, I have a feeling this is going to be one, swanky event.  Of course, I NEED a new dress for the function since nothing in my closet will do, naturally.  To start the search, I hit up Nordstrom’s website and found a few styles that I’m liking.  Now, they just need to go on sale!

 

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My mom and I were at Target and I spotted these.  I think they are adorable, but she couldn’t stop laughing when I put them on.  Her exact words — “penguin shoes.”  Needless to say, she hated them, but I loved them and they still came home with me.  PS – J was with my mom.

 

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My roses from last weekend are still going strong.  They are the perfect degree of openness and they make me happy.

Make it a great Friday and an even greater weekend! xo

Deck and Patio Refresh

Deck and Patio Refresh

Well, we had spring for a hot minute and now it’s back to winter temps and freezing winds and I’m really starting to think that Mother Nature is confused.  Despite this craziness, the weather hasn’t stopped me from thinking ahead to long summer nights outside with a glass of wine and flip flop season.

Because summer usually means outdoor living, in addition to the powder room, J’s back porch needs a refresh.

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His back sliding glass door leads out to a large deck and a step down patio. Unfortunately it doesn’t get a lot of use during the summer because the deck is exposed to the hot sun all afternoon and into the evening.  Even dinners are challenging since it’s still steamy and bright.  Who wants to be sweating while eating?  Not me.  So we are going to start looking into a retractable awning.  I think an awning would be the easiest solution to the sun exposure without building a permanent roof.

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He also has a stone patio that steps down from the deck.  A little TLC and a few strategically placed plants will up definitely help to elevate this space.  Maybe even a rug under the wrought iron table and another seating area too?

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On the deck itself, he has this furniture set situated in the corner.  I gave it a good look recently and it is faded badly from the sun.  With much discoloration, I’m thinking a few coats of spray paint will do the trick, possibly in a differently color to break up all the brown.  The rug has faded over the winter, so a fresh rug will be the final touch depending on the route taken with the awning.

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This table is in good condition and I like the lines, but a few of the tiles need to be replaced.  They easily pop out and are standard 12×12″ tiles, so finding the right color and size shouldn’t be hard.  This piece will also be getting a few coats of spray paint as well.  Last year we purchased chairs for the table, but they are in the garage for winter storage.

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All of this and some plants and flowers will make a total difference in the space.  I can’t wait to see it in the end and I will definitely keep you updated on our progress.

Living intentionally

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Lately I’ve had this nagging feeling of unsettlement.  I can’t pinpoint where it is coming from exactly, but I know it has been present inside of me for a while now.  Nothing is particularly wrong in my life.  In fact, everything is going quite well.  So then, why do I feel this way?

The other night when I came across an article in Chip and Joanna’s [Magnolia Journal] magazine titled “Living with Intentionality,” it struck me hard.  Several people told their stories about how they found peace from within and how they now live life to the fullest.

One entrepreneur told how a sickness brought him to think deeper about his life, the past and present.  He started to keep a journal of his intentions for the day, which led him to write personal notes to the many people who have touched his life in some way.  To date, he has written many, many notes to a broad range of people ranging from the coffee shop barista to relatives. He practices his intentionality from the feeling he gets from letting others know how he feels.

A former exec left her high paying job to follow her love of gardening, which she learned from her grandfather at a young age.  The salary was expectedly less, but the passion was there and she hasn’t looked back.

A woman who dreamed of having children found out it wouldn’t be possible due to Crohn’s disease.  So after a long process, she adopted a baby from China with her husband.  Time passed and after much disappointment, they adopted a second baby from the same country with special needs and their family is now complete.

All of the stories I read had a common thread – to live with a purpose and to follow the passion that comes from within.  Simple enough?  Yet, so hard.

Sometimes we all get caught up in life’s daily grind, myself included.  It’s so easy to take our loved ones for granted and not be present because of a work deadline, kid activities or household chores, etc.  The older I get, the more I realize that I, too, need to begin to live intentionally.  I want to live with the purpose of making others feel needed, wanted and cared for, because after all, isn’t that what we all crave?

I want to begin to look at the big picture and not the little things right in front of me.  I am so guilty of reacting to minor issues with immediate responses rather than taking a step back and thinking about what is really going on.

By living with intention, I want to try and lessen what makes me anxious, especially those things I can’t control.  “Try” is the key word.  A while back I wrote about my struggle with anxiety and it’s still a daily struggle to keep my emotions and nervousness in check.

I’m wondering if by shifting my thoughts to this mindset if I will be able to put more trust in people, rather than doubt or question?  Having an intentional purpose may take the focus away from me and placing it on others.

Finally, I want to find what sparks me inside.  I already know things I am passionate about….my family, friends, running, design, but what is it deep down that sparks the passion within me?  I am still searching for that answer.

At the end of the day, it all boils down to one thing for me.  I need to try and live my life to the absolute fullest.

A Few Things

A Few Things

This week was a bit stressful as it was the first week of our state standardized testing and I’m so glad the weekend is here.  I’m sad that J is away, but I have lots of things planned to keep me busy.  Tonight I am taking my mom to happy hour at my favorite place and we may even go out after to hear a friend sing at a bar.  Saturday I’m heading into NYC for the day with a friend and I’m excited for some girl time.  Some places we plan on hitting up are the Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market and Alice’s Tea Room for lunch.  On Sunday I have a much needed massage scheduled before my nephew’s birthday party.

Here are a few things that I’m loving and coveting lately….

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I stocked up on a few accessories on a recent Home Good’s trip.  The geode on this lid is so pretty, and the candle itself has a sweet spring scent that livens up the whole house.  And since I have this thing with coffee table books, I couldn’t leave this one about rose behind.

 

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A friend sent me this article the other day and it really hit home.  It’s one that I have bookmarked and revisit when needed: 15 Things You Should Give Up In Order To Be Happy

 

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This.  I am in love with this whole master bath remodel, but mostly with this wall.  Kristin was brilliant with her unexpected leaning wall of art and lingerie dresser on this side of the room.  Check out the whole space here.

 

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I’m not sure if all liquor stores carry this wine, but my PA state stores usually stock it in their Chairman’s Selection area.  It’s a steal for under $10 and I usually have a bottle (or 2) on hand.

 

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Finally, I thought these rocks were cute by One Giggle at a Time.   Students can keep them on their desks as a reminder to “Rock the Test.”  I was planning on making them for my crew until I found out that they would be frowned upon by the state.

Make it a great weekend! xo