Happy New Year!

I feel like it has been about twenty seconds since I said this last year.  What a year 2012 has been, no? We hope 2013 is your best year yet!

 Here's to another year of friends, projects and wine! Three things Jamie and I simply love.  

See you swoon,

Seeing [Nantucket] Red: part deux

Happy Friday! Next week is 2013 - can you believe it?  I cannot.  

Up today is a little update on my sweet Nantucket Red skirt - my favorite find of the Summer that I blogged about here and here.  It's decidedly a warm-weather skirt and look, but I wondered whether I could make it work for Fall.  So on a rather warm day a few weeks ago, I took the plunge.  Please excuse the fact that I look a little ... melancholy? in this picture.  

I paired the skirt with a sleeveless, light-weight cowl neck shell and a taupe cardigan over that.  Flat leather boots, which earlier this year Jamie blogged a slew of ideas on how to wear, round out the look. So what do you think?  Does it look ok? Or does it belong in Summertime only?

See you swoon,

All I Need Now is Chestnuts ...

Or marshmallows.  Ooh or better yet, marshmallows and chocolate and graham crackers!  Because on a cold weekend recently, I made my first fire in my fireplace and, I am kind of embarrassed to admit, ever in my life!  I am so proud.

There was something so gratifying about making that fire.  I enjoyed it all afternoon and evening while I watched Christmas movies, wrapped Christmas presents, folded laundry, paid the bills and did other mundane chores around the house.  It made the house a little cozier.  

Happy post-Christmas Day to you!  I'm probably heading to work for part of the day but may hit up some sales later on.  What are your plans?  I hope you had a wonderful holiday.  

See you swoon,

Merry Christmas!

From our homes to yours, we wish you a merry christmas filled with good cheer, good food and good times.

image *via*
See you swoon,


Good morning!  What's better than a before and after on a lovely late-December morning? Just about nothing, that's what!

Recently I made over the frame on a piece of art I picked up in Rome.  I bought this map of Italy from the Vatican Museums when I was there in 2000.  I've always loved this map - it's gorgeous and, as a Latin major and one-time resident of Rome, it has special meaning to me.  Back in 2001, I had it framed by a professional framer and hung it in my office for years.  Now it is in my home.  The only issue ... the frame.  It's brown wood and just doesn't work with the rest of my house.  The colors of the map itself do, but the frame does not.  See?

I did not want to to through the expense of reframing it, so it had to work as is.  The mat is a creamy ivory, so I knew a white frame wouldn't really work.  I decided to go silver.  I thought about spray painting, but that seemed risky, since I could not remove the frame from the art.  Instead, I broke out the craft paint. I had some silver craft paint on hand and just took my time and brushed it on.

I used a combination of the brush pictured above and a foam brush.  It took about 7-8 (thousand) coats but it was fast going.  I just scraped off any stray paint from the glass when done.  The painting took maybe a half hour total.  Then I let the frame dry for another hour or two before hanging.  And ... voila! Here is the picture now.  Doesn't it look better?

What about you?  Have you done any easy projects lately?  Please share!

See you swoon,

Bench to Impress

The hunt is over!  Over I say!  I have been searching high and low for the perfect size coffee table/ottoman/bench/whatever-as-long-as-I-can-put-my-feet-on-it solution for my living room.  Everything I found was either too big, too small, too wide, too deep or too expensive.  Enter Craigslist. As usual.  Here is what I found: a vanity bench with the perfect dimensions and only $30 and the frame was already white.  Sold!  

Only ... look at that fabric.  Yuck.

But I'm no stranger to fabric projects, and I have done this before.  I just followed the same process I used in making an upholstered ottoman last year.   First, I took off the top of the bench.  Then I removed the fabric.  I was able to reuse the foam and just added double-thick batting and some extra fabric that I had on hand in my stash.  I tried a bunch of options but liked the simplicity of the coral the best.  And here she is!

Now all I need is a little tray for the top to hold drinks and such and I'm set.  Ahhhh ... I just love my little bench/ottoman. What do you think?  

See you swoon,

In Pace Requiescant

[may they rest in peace]

Like the rest of the country, I am deeply affected by the shootings in Connecticut last week.  I was at work when I heard the news and was unable to pull myself away from the footage.  I watched President Obama's press conference with a colleague, and I found myself raining tears on his desk.  

My heart goes out to the families in Connecticut who lost someone precious.  I have been hugging my children a bit tighter and longer all weekend - thankful for their little faces, their sweet little hands and hearts. 

The following advice from Fred Rogers (of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood) has helped me in some small way.  I hope it does for you too.

"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.' To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother's words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world." – Fred Rogers

See you swoon,

New Years Resolutions

Morning, all.  We are but weeks away from 2013, which is so hard to believe.  It is probably no surprise that I, a big list maker, love to make new years resolutions.  I do them every year.  Here is my list of 2013 resolutions for the home.

1.  Paint the, um, entire house.  As much as I have tried to convince myself to live with the current paint color, I simply cannot.  Everyone knows how much I love, love, love white.  And there is white on the walls in the entryway, hallway, living and dining rooms, stairwell and upstairs hallway. It is all the same shade of white.  But the white is cold and has a lot of blue undertones, which makes the place feel cold and institutional.  The moldings blend into the wall color.  It looks dark and depressing. So, I will paint.  I have to decide the color, and because I am renting, I need to keep it light and neutral so my landlord is happy.  I will probably do a reader poll in the new year, but I'm thinking my choices are among (1) a warm white like I used in the kids' bathroom [Sherwin Williams Alabaster]; (2) a warm cream like I used in my first home's bedroom [Behr Cottage White]; or (3) a very soft tan like I used in my second home's playroom and Jamie used all over her house [Sherwin Williams Rice Grain].  I can't wait to do this.  It is going to be a *project* and will certainly take a long period of time, as the same color has to go all over the place.  Plus, the stairwell has super tall ceilings.  I may be enlisting will definitely be begging the help of Jamie and her super long legs and arms for that part of the project. 

2.  Hang more pictures.  It's a chicken and the egg thing right now: do I wait to hang pictures until I paint or should I just get on with the pictures and paint later?  I will figure this out.  I plan to hang black and white pictures of the kids on the TV wall.  I also plan to hang pictures in the stairwell.

3.  Make a mirror.  I want to DIY the Eagan Mirror from Pottery Barn. I have seen a ton of tutorials in blogland.  I'll hang it behind my dining room table and move the oversized frames to different spots - one over the buffet in the dining room and the other probably in the stairwell.

image courtesy of Pottery Barn

4.  Work on the kids' rooms.  I have a good start, but their rooms need more decorating: more on the walls, more function, more organization, and a fresh coat of paint.

5.  Update the kitchen.  The kitchen is the same color as the rest of the house.  Once I paint the other spaces in the house, I'd like to paint the kitchen as well, but I want a different color.  I'm thinking the same Sherwin Williams Mindful Gray as in the half bath and my bathroom.  I need a color that will somehow magically make the oak cabinets look better.  I may also add some hardware to the cabinets.  

6.  Paint and pretty up the laundry room closet.  I would like to spend a day one weekend making my little laundry room closet pretty and more organized. I could paint it either the Mindful Gray (I have two nearly full gallons that I could use up) or search for a pretty "Oops Paint" at Lowe's or Home Depot.   I am leaning toward the latter:  a bold, deep color would be a lot of fun in this space.  

7.  Work on the downstairs patio.  I love this space and this year want to make it more inviting and fun. I have the two adirondack chairs I painted a few summers ago, but they are in need of a fresh coat of paint.  I think I'll paint them a fun color and add pillows, an outdoor rug, and some lights around the space.  This is a great bonus area that I hope to make more use of in the warmer months.  I am also resolving to get over my fear of gardening and add some flowers and (gulp) a container garden, including herbs.  I think I can I think I can I think I can. 

8.  Organize Closets & Drawers.  Even though it's last on my list, this project will most likely be the first thing I tackle in 2013.  I tend to get bitten by the organizational bug in the new year (as seen here and here and here and here and here and here and here. wow).  I need to do this - so many of my closets and drawers are in desperate need of organizing. Among them: the hall closet, my walk-in closet, the kids' closets, my bathroom vanity and cabinet and the kids' bathroom vanity and cabinet.  Oh boy.

That about wraps it up!  I will be busy in 2013, that is for sure.  What about you?  Are you a list or resolution maker? What tops your resolution list for the next year? 

See you swoon,

If you liked it then you should've put a wreath on it

Oh yes I did.

Happy December!  Are you in the throes of holiday decorating?  I am and it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here.  Up today is a small, fun thing I did in my living room:  added a wreath to my large print over the fireplace.  You know, the one that looks like this that I just posted about last Tuesday:

I ordered the Glitterball Wreath from Crate & Barrel on Black Friday, which had free shipping and 15% off everything.  Unbelievably, the wreath was delivered to my house that Sunday!  Um, thank you Crate & Barrel!  

Anyway, back to the wreath.  If you had time, it looks like you could easily DIY this with a styrofoam hoop and a bunch of little styrofoam craft balls, some paint and glitter.  See?

But I wanted easy, and easy this was.  I grabbed a thick ribbon from my stash, looped it around the wreath, and then hung the ribbon on a tiny On Command hook behind the frame ... and voila!

What do you think?  And how's your place shaping up for the holidays?   

See you swoon,

5 Years

Five years ago today, Maggie died.  Much like the bluntness of the previous sentence, her death came without warning - out of nowhere.  

Maggie was one of my best friends - a fellow girl from New Jersey who I met on the very first day at college in 1994.  We met when we had our whole lives ahead of us, and I thank God every day that I knew her.  She made me a better person and this world a better place.  

For the past five years, December 6 has been a hard day.  That's the thing about anniversaries: you cannot help but remember exactly what you were doing or where you were, both literally and figuratively, on that date.  On other dates of meaning throughout the year, I can find the silver lining in the dark clouds -- on her birthday I can remember celebrations in college; on her wedding anniversary I can remember how stunning she looked and how blissfully happy she was (and how we all sang the theme song from The Jeffersons in the limo on the way to the church on that unusually warm March day); on her twins' birthday (they were just 18 months old when she died), I can remember how adorable she looked while pregnant with them and how happy they made her; on St. Patrick's Day, I can remember our last get together of our group of five girlfriends from college.  But December 6 is different: there is no silver lining, there are no happy memories to assuage the sadness.  December 6 is simply sad.  

I think about Maggie every single day.  I can't help but do that, as my girlfriends and I would (and still do) email every day.  Our email chain started right after college graduation, when I was off to law school, Maggie was off to grad school, Melissa started her year as a volunteer, and Missy and Julia entered the work force.  Our emails encompassed 9 years of life: joys greater than we could have imagined, sadness deeper than we thought possible and everything in between ... but all shared.  When my girls laughed, I laughed. When they cried, I did too.  Such is the bond of girlfriends: my chosen sisters who love me because they want to, not because they have to.

So, on Sunday December 2, 2007, 5 months pregnant with my daughter and in the middle of baking a batch of brownies,  I got the call that Maggie was in the hospital.  My immediate thought was a car accident.  But that was not it.  She suffered a seizure and was in a coma.  When Missy told me this, I could hear her words, but they just did not register.  How is this possible? I had just seen her two weeks before at a baptism.  She drove me around in her car.  I was at her house.  We were laughing together.  We were feeding Cheerios to her kids.  We talked about my pregnancy.  She asked my advice on how to set up the rooms in the house.  And now she's what? Where?  I felt myself floating above my body watching my life unfold.  It was a dream - a nightmare.  But it wasn't.

As the week went on, we girls emailed and called constantly, and Maggie's situation got worse.  On December 5, when it became clear how dire things were, we all ran to her side, not really realizing that we were going to say goodbye until we got there.  Her husband gave us the most incredible gift he could have possibly given and asked us to stay with her overnight that night on December 5.  We got no sleep but the hours ticked off like seconds.  Her husband said that we could be in the room the next morning when they took her off the machines.  We were there and were with her and her family when she passed.  Those few hours were the most difficult, but also the most precious, of my life.  I think about that time a lot.  But I can also feel it.  There was a palpable feeling of grace and love in that room.  I will never forget it.  It may sound trite, but when I start to become overwhelmed by the sadness of loss, I think of those few hours we had in that hospital room, and it helps a little.  I have never been so close to God as in those moments.  

Every December 6, I go to Mass - I will be there this morning.  And I cry.  I cry a lot.  I cry for her because she loved her life and it was taken from her.  I cry for her husband and children.  I cry for her parents and sister and her family.  I cry for her friends.  I cry for the families she helped in her job.  I cry for my friends.  And, I cry for myself because I lost someone I loved so very much.  I wonder what she would say or think about life right now.  There are times when I just need to talk to her.  To tell her something great or ask her advice or get that bit of reassurance or loving honesty.  

I remember right after she died, and I was just so angry, someone said to me, "Oh, you must be in the angry stage of grief.  There are five stages you know: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance."  I had never heard of this before, but all it did was make me angrier at the time.  Five years later, I still don't really buy the stages of grief thing.  As tempting as it is to wrap up the complexity and horror of grief into a neat little checklist, life simply does not work that way.  I think grief is more of a continuum: some days are ok, some days are not, the pain gets a bit easier to bear, but the pain and sadness linger.  I am still somewhat in denial.  I still get angry.  I still feel depressed.  And while I have accepted that she is gone, I have not, and cannot, and most likely for the rest of my life will not, accept why she is gone.  She just is.  

On December 6 each year, I always hope that tomorrow I will be able to think about her laugh - that distinctive belly laugh that you could hear and recognize a mile away.  Or the crinkle of her nose and sparkle in her eye when she smiled.  Or how she made everyone dance. Or how she managed to work her way behind a DJ booth at every opportunity.  Or how she could neigh like a horse.  Or how much she loved to talk about her beautiful babies.  Or how in love she still was with her husband.  Or how much she adored her sister.  Or how she truly loved her friends.  Tomorrow, maybe, I will think about those things.  But today I grieve and cry for my friend - for losing her and missing her more than words can say.  

See you swoon,

Art Schmart

Good morning to you!  I hope everyone is having a terrific day.  

Today I am sharing the new addition to my living room: art over fireplace.  Here is the space before:

And here it is after:

I thought about adding a shelf to act as a mantle, but I think with the layout of the room and the angle of the fireplace next to the TV, a shelf/mantle in that space would look way too cluttered.  So, instead, I opted for an oversized frame with art in it.  

I bought another Wood Gallery Oversized Mat frame from Pottery Barn in white, to match the other two that I scored at the Pottery Barn Outlet last year, which are in my dining room.  I took advantage of a sale online at Pottery Barn, where the frames were 15% off and had free shipping.  It wasn't as great a deal as at the outlet, but it was a little savings that I happily took!  I have plans to move these frames around in the Winter, but that's a bigger project.  Anyway, I had a lovely print of soft pink peonies on hand that I found at Etsy from Judy Stalus.  I thought this would be perfect in the space.  And it is!

It's amazing how much art on the walls makes a room feel more homey and lived-in.  I want to add pictures of the kids around the TV on the wall, but at this point I will hold off until I've repainted the room.  

What about you?  Do any fun projects lately? 

See you swoon,