Wednesday, March 30, 2011

a HAPPY little village...

so my "word" for 2011 is HAPPY.
i'm trying, i'm trying:)
some days are happier than others, right?
but the other day, when this little village popped up
on my computer screen...
 it brought a SMILE to my face.
a HAPPY smile:)
 so I thought I'd share it with you...
aren't these adorable?
 they're a VILLAGE of soft cottage ornaments,
 made by a lady named Kajsa in Finland (Syko shop) who just LOVES to sew.
 well Kajsa...you made me HAPPY today with your sewing so thank you!

and here are a few other things available in Syko's etsy shop...
 anyway, not being able to sew myself, i thought you'd like to see
what can be done with a few scraps of fabric and an
IMAGINATION:)
XOXOXO
Suzanne

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Some Neighbors I can Live Without...

like this guy...
he acts like he owns the place or something!

okay, okay...
Florida...swamp...I guess he WAS here first.
but still...does he have to sunbathe across the street from me???
his skin's looking kind of rough anyway:)

so how are things in YOUR neighborhood???

Friday, March 25, 2011

Bringing Home the Beach...

so, you had an AMAZING spring break vacation
at the beach.
 well guess what...
it's our spring break too!
and we've managed to sneak in a few days at the beach...
every year, I hear families 
saying they don't want to go home, they LOVE the beach
they can't wait for summer...
like the mom on the towel near me, 
the one with the sunburn that will leave BAD tan lines
watching her kids play in the sand...
who just told her husband he needed to find a job in Florida
so they could move down. 
yeah...about that...

anyway, I'm no decorator and don't pretend to be.
I wouldn't even DREAM of trying to pull together some fussy, high end
look.  We're barefoot and casual all the way!
 but I do have a few ideas for you.
I know there are probably TONS of articles out there on this...
in fact, I've written a few things myself.
nothing terribly original...just common BEACH SENSE.
but since I'm hearing a lot of wishing and DREAMING going on about
life by the beach, let's do it again:)
sometimes we all need a refresher course, right?

and THIS time, if by chance I get ANY comments after being so lazy.
I will write back! The NEW me:)
 so lady with the sunburn, this is for YOU!

it's so EASY to decorate in that shabby, 
beach cottage way...
first up...clear the clutter.
think about it...beaches and the ocean are wide open spaces, 
stretching as far as the eye can see.
 the trick here is to keep it simple...relaxing...easy going.
beaches can be bare stretches of sand or layered with shells...
but it never feels cluttered.

 Next...color scheme.
it's really quite simple.
just sit back and think of what you see at the beach.
sandy beaches...fluffy clouds...foamy waves...pink shells...washed out driftwood...blue sky...
 and shades of aqua, seafoam, and turquoise.
 painting your house a DREAMY shade of white or cream makes a great canvas.
 accenting with any of the above colors will immediately bring the beach in.
 by the way, one thing I've learned since living in Florida for 16 years...
decorate how YOU want...not what the area or your friends think you should do.
sometimes I want a beachy feel, sometimes I want a FRENCH feel,
sometimes I want to feel as if I'm in a cabin in MAINE, complete with a moose motif:)
so if you live up north and everything is dark wood...it's only paint!
 go for it...add the little touches that say "beach" to you.
at the very least you'll be happy thinking
about your beach vacation!

moving on to furnishings...
this is where slipcovers RULE!
 just don't make my mistake and be sure to get the kind that you can rip off,
throw in the washer and bleach the heck out of them.
 i will ALWAYS have slipcovers...so comfy, so cozy, so casual...
all ways to describe a beach house.
the key is FABRIC...because it's the most comfy.
 linens, canvas, duck cloth, cotton.
and besides, what good Rachel Ashwell groupie would be without slipcovers?
wicker is a FABULOUS touch too.
 at any garage sale or thrift store, you can find a wicker chair or table.
take it home, spray paint it white/cream/aqua...whatever...and
VOILA...instant beach feel!
 if you have an old dark wood table...paint it white and chip it up a bit.
(although mixing woods is COOL too:)

floors...hardwood RULES!
a few throw rugs scattered is all you need for those
SANDY FEET.
 if you're not a fan of hardwood...
tile works too.
but in my personal opinion,
the contrast of wood...any shade...plays against the rest of the room
and keeps it cozy:)

accessorize with beach TREASURES...
a few sea shells, STARFISH, sand dollars...
scattered here and there, piled in a clear glass jar...
instant decor.
add in some SEA GLASS...so PRETTY!
driftwood pieces add a nice touch...but remember, no clutter:)
 coral, sea foam, FLOWERS and candles work too.
 a few faded, BEACHY throw pillows here and there will pull it together.
and don't forget a faded throw for naps after a long day at the beach!
***please remember to gently toss any LIVE sand dollars
and starfish back in the surf.  
if they're alive, they're not ready to leave their ocean home
and move into yours:)
besides...it's the law. SORRY:)
okay, when you think of days at the beach,
what scent comes to mind?
okay, forget the occasional fishy smell (haha)
maybe the scent that comes to mind is something CRISP, cool, breezy.
for me, it's the scent of suntan oil...COCONUT, lime, pineapple.
TROPICAL scents...yum!
 I have these through the house when I want to think of the beach.
a few other smells are not necessarily beach smells but
still remind me of living near the beach and they are
night blooming JASMINE and my all time favorite...
ORANGE BLOSSOMS!
 lastly, remember to display your beach photos.
make a photo book for your coffee table...
 pictures of days spent tossing beach balls,
searching for shells, walking on the beach,
building SAND CASTLES,
playing in the SURF,  making
MEMORIES!

that beach cottage look is casual and MISMATCHED all the way.
hmmm...mismatched...that must be why even I can do it:)
 to those spring breakers who spent their vacation
by the beach here in FLORIDA...
THANK YOU!
most of us do appreciate you and don't mind
sharing our beautiful beaches with you.
after all, it's because of YOU...
and the MONEY you spend down here...
that we don't pay local and state taxes...so come on down!
(HEE,HEE,HEE)
then go home and design your OWN beach cottage!

 XOXOXOXO
Suzanne

Monday, March 21, 2011

Happy Birthday to My Mom...

  So Mom…you did it. 
You traveled around the sun 80 times!  
I know…I’ve used that line before. 
But it is pretty amazing when you think about it. 
I also know you’re not crazy about this whole “80 years old* thing 
but look at it from our eyes…
our mom is 80!  

She’s every bit as beautiful as she always was. 
She created a wonderful life for us growing up and she still has a wonderful life, 
full of people who love her.  
We’re pretty blessed Mom, 
so we want to CELEBRATE this with you
 Okay…but where to start… Do I make this funny or sentimental,
which is the way I’ve been feeling these past few months?
  You deserve it all so here goes… 
Mom, you have been the center of my world for so long and 
I can’t imagine a world without you in it. 
I know you’ll always be in my heart but still…
I need more...or maybe I should say I want more:)

Even with a family of my own,
yours is still the voice I often hear in my head.  
Maybe that’s how it goes. 
Maybe my voice will stick with my girls.
  (poor girls)

Life is so busy for me these days and the only regret I have with that is 
it means I can’t spend as much time with you…
but stick around because the days are going fast 
and I’ll soon have more time than I'll know what to do with.  
But I’m so grateful for the time we spent together while I was growing up.
Especially in high school...
now how many kids can say that?

Lucky me, being the youngest.  
So many of my memories revolve around you and YOUR friends, 
something I wouldn’t trade for anything.  
I think that’s why, 
when people ask that dumb question about socialization 
and my girls because they are home schooled, 
I just want to tell them they’re crazy.  
Besides the fact that they live VERY full, busy lives…
they are totally comfortable with people of ALL ages and find fun in 
spending time with adults as well as other teens. 
That’s how it was with me. 

I can’t drive past Tuttle Rd. in Sarasota without thinking about Mary Ella,
(Tuttle or Turtle??) 
I can’t hear “Everything is Beautiful” without thinking about Emery,  
can’t eat Marshmallow topping without thinking about that messy sundae 
Doris W. ate at Howard Johnsons!
And every single time I walk in a dollar store, (which is often:)
I think of the time when they first opened and were called
“Everything’s a Dollar”.  
You walked up to the guy and asked how much something cost
and the whole store screamed out 
“Everything’s a Dollar”!  haha… 
And I never knew you came home and messed with your own hair. 
I do that too!
  I come home, 
get out the scissors and give myself the cut I wanted in the first place. 
Must’ve seen you do it! 

One of my favorite memories involved my friends, 
who absolutely LOVED you, by the way.
You must have been one of the first "Cool Moms"!
One night, we realized they “teepee’d” the front yard. 
Thinking we were lucky to see it before we went to bed, 
you and I went out and cleaned it up before the morning dew. 
Smart, huh?  
Then when we went in the family room, 
we saw they had done the backyard too. 
Out we went to clean it. 
Finally we were done.  
Then Dad looks out the window and tells us they did the front yard again. 
Huh???  
While we were cleaning the back yard, they were out front doing it again!  hahaha 
We laughed so hard.  
How dumb were we?

  I had great friends from church…
my best friends, other than a few at school...
and my mom. 
Thank you for steering me towards my youth group instead of school. 
I can’t think of a single memory of school that means anything to me
but I have a truckload from church and to me, 
that’s as it should be. 
(even though my friends and I did manage to go through
a bunch of different youth directors.  
Did anyone stop to think it might have been us and not them?:)  

And can you explain how you let us put pennies on the train track 
when we heard it coming and then back away while 
it flattened our pennies at Otsego with Bowmans? 
I mean, I had to be about 8 or so, right? 
hahaha…but we survived to tell about it.  
Good times...

Yep…it’s definitely the little things that in the end are
really the big things. 
You did a lot of little things for me…for us…
and have no idea how “big” they really were. 
They still are! 
 Especially after this past year, 
I have never been more grateful for those little things.  
I remember crying  while telling you of my test results and you said
“Oh Suzy, I’m old.  I wish I could take it from you”. 
Yes, that made me cry even more…
it still does…but that’s a mother’s love for you. 
The cards and emails to cheer me up,
the few dollars tucked in an envelope to treat myself to 
Starbucks or ice cream.  

I know that you are there, that you care, 
that you worry and that you pray. 
I know when you are on your knees at night, 
you pray for me, for my girls, for every single one of us.  Thank you Mom. 
Thank you for  caring.  
Thank you for praying.  
Thank you for loving. 

Thank you for being our Mom….
our Mother…
our Mommy.  
I love you. 
Happy Birthday.  
Happy 80th Birthday!!!!!
 P.S...I almost forgot...
these guys want to wish you a Happy Birthday too!

XOXOXOXO
Suzanne

Friday, March 18, 2011

6 Things I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE...

...and that make me a very HAPPY girl!
(well, besides being back at my blog, of course:)

let's get right to it...
1.  this AMAZING, GORGEOUS, perfectly SHABBY quilt 
made by my extremely talented sister Kathy
for my sweet girl's 16th birthday.
 I know what you're thinking...
how come I didn't get this sewing/quilting gene
passed on by my Grandma!
trust me, I ask myself this SAME question:)
Isn't it PRETTY?
  oh my gosh, I fell in love with these rag quilts when I first saw them.
so COZY!!!
yes, she makes very INTRICATE quilts too, 
but when she said she wanted to make a quilt for her sweet 16,
I begged her to make Taylor a rag quilt that she would have forever!
 she loves it...we all love it!
in fact, now Jordan wants a shabby chic room 
so she can have a quilt from Aunt Kathy someday too:)
see why I LOVE this? 

2.   I absolutely adore this bag made for me by
Kellie from Bag Full of Posies.
 she makes these adorable fabric rosettes and 
prints your blog name (or whatever you like) on the bag. 
 It's big, roomy...
and oh, so SHABBY!
I get stopped everywhere I go by people who rave about the bag,
so check her out on etsy...
you'll be so HAPPY you did!

3.  I LOVE strawberry season!
 strawberry shortcake, strawberry pie, strawberry cake, 
strawberries on toast...on ice cream...
strawberries & cream...
and now, strawberry MUFFINS!!!
 these are so YUMMY...
oh my gosh, one bite and you can't stop.
so next time I write about dieting, you'll know what I've been stuffing my face with:)

4.  The English Home magazine.
 oh...this is so LOVELY!
well written articles, beautiful pictures.
I fell in love with England when we were there last Fall...
so when I saw this magazine at Borders (40% off sale you know)
I picked it up and fell in love.  
see for yourself...
 now put the kettle on for some tea and grab yourself a strawberry muffin...
snuggle under a COZY quilt and I promise...
you will ENJOY this one! 

5.  Flowers...on SANDALS!
yep...a big thing this season.
you may still be in boot mode but trust me,
when you get around to warmer weather,
you'll see all kids of shoes embellished with flowers.
now, I'm not talking about some tacky flower thingies but
PRETTY accents on sandals. 
these...I LOVE!  
since I am a jeans-wearing mama...BIG TIME... 
I think a pair of these would make me a HAPPY shabby chick! 
these are a bit dressier but SO pretty and delicate!
my girls REALLY like these...me too:) 

 6.  Cookie Brownies...
or as Jordan and her BFF Lucy have named them...
"Crownies"!
 Oh man...are these good.
I know...more food.  
hey...I send most...well, some of them...home with Lucy...5 kids there:) 
they're really simple and below I'll give you the recipe.
 but don't worry...my friend Duncan Hines has a box mix at the store:)
 every recipe I've seen calls for a top layer of chocolate frosting or ganache
but we have never done this.
we don't need to.
they're all warm and gooey with just the right blend of 
fudgy brownie and cookie dough as is.

Recipe for Crownies:
1  box (1 lb 2.4 oz) Betty Crocker® Original Supreme Premium brownie mix
    Water, vegetable oil and egg called for on brownie mix box
1  pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker® chocolate chip cookie mix
1/2   cup butter or margarine, softened
1  egg
(or you can make brownies and dough from scratch...if you're one of THOSE people:)  haha 

 1. 1 Heat oven to 350ºF (325ºF for dark or nonstick pan). Spray bottom only of 13x9-inch pan with cooking spray, or grease with shortening. Make brownie mix as directed on box. Spread in pan.
   2. 2 Make cookie mix as directed on pouch, using butter and 1 egg. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls evenly onto brownie batter; press down lightly.
   3. 3 Bake 42 to 47 minutes or until toothpick inserted 2 inches from side of pan comes out almost clean. Cool on cooling rack 30 minutes.
 (or like I said, there's an easy box mix...if you can find it:)

 well, there you have it.
It's been a time of shoe shopping, 
going to the beach with my new bag,
reading magazines, 
stuffing my face with strawberries and CROWNIES
while curled up under a pretty quilt.
(actually, there is NO eating allowed anywhere near that pretty quilt:)

hope everyone is HAPPY and HEALTHY!
XOXOXOXOXO
Suzanne 

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