Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter!

In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.
John 1:4

Happy Easter to you and yours!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Rhode Island

Providence, you're just as pretty as I remember!

I spent last week on a business trip to Providence, Rhode Island. I haven't been there in over a decade, in fact, I was last there on business right after I found out I was pregnant with my almost 11 year old daughter.
I loved Providence then, and this past trip was no different. New England lures me in a way that I cannot explain. It feels like home.
I arrived Sunday night and Monday afternoon had a chance to go out to Newport and tour The Breakers ~ the massive Vanderbilt mansion that makes me wish Anderson Cooper was straight so I could at least have a shot at having an "in" to the place. More seriously, I have always been an Edith Wharton fan, so to walk these grounds and get an inside peek at the society she so eloquently scribed about was amazing.

To say I loved the kitchen would be the understatement of the year!

I want/need these windows in my life. Serious window lust happened right here.

Downtown Newport

Snowy Providence

Last sunrise in Rhode Island. See you next time Providence!

Is there a place you visit that feels like home to you?

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Honey, I Love you!

My sweet niece Lily turned 1 over the weekend!
My crafty sister in law threw her a "Honey I Love You!" themed party that was adorable.
As the mother of a 3 year old and 1 year old her plate overfloweth; so she cleverly chose where to invest her time and where to simplify.
She handmade invitations to set the stage (I lament I didn't take a picture of one - they were gorgeous!) had her sister make the beautiful paper banner, ordered all the party decor online (which ties back to the spring decor she already had around the house - ingenius!) had a bakery make a sheet cake for her then made trays of delicious cookies and brownies to serve alongside.
She set up a make your own taco bar for this party of 50 adults and assorted toddlers and children because who doesn't like tacos?
She prepared the majority of the food herself, then had a local mexican restaurant cater the fill ins. A giant tray of rice? Catered. Shredded chicken and taco beef? Homemade. Salsa's, guacamole and pico? Catered. All the typical taco toppings like lettuce, tomatoes etc? Homemade.
I admire how she knows her limits and doesn't overburden herself with trying to tackle too much. I am one of those people who tends to take on too much and ends up running around like a maniac before an event begins. Meghan was as cool as a cucumber all day and everyone had a fantastic time.

Meghan and Lily

Help yourself is the best way to go!

I seriously adore this sweet girl!

Meghan added little bees over her spring centerpiece - so sweet!

My brother and two of his beautiful ladies.

Beautiful packaging


Lily wasn't sure about the singing crowd...

But she was sure that she LOVED cake!

How could I not add a picture of the big sister - the first apple of my eye?
My Vera - how big you've grown!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

This Beautiful Life

One Saturday night back in February, I ended up rushed to the ER and hospitalized after having severe pain in my chest and upper back. Fortunately, it was only my gall bladder ~ but the ordeal left me terrified of another attack. After meeting with a surgeon it was decided that the best option was surgery to remove it.
As the calendar crept closer to the date it was scheduled, I found myself in constant reflection about this life I live. The thought of going under anesthesia is daunting. Knowing that you're leaving your life in the hands of physicians and nurses you have only met a handful of times, if at all, is nerve wracking. Looking around me at this existence I have built and knowing that there is a fraction of a chance it could all be gone in a flash is terrifying.
Mortality is fragile.
 And the moments in which we are reminded of that are powerful.
I found my senses heightened and my awareness of the very miniscule elevated. I felt like I was noticing every little thing around me. My thoughts were constantly reeling about the past, the future and the legacy I have created in almost 40 years of living. The majority of my thoughts revolved around my husband, my children and our life together. But my circle expands beyond them to the tightknit bonds I have with my extended family. I have amazing relationships with my siblings. We are more than relations, we are truly the best of friends.
 I was lucky to have my two nieces spend the night this past weekend while my baby brother and sister in law were at a wedding. This night meant more to me than any old sleepover could have. The baby fell asleep in my arms and I sat there for hours feeling her breath rise and fall and listening to her sweet sleeping sounds. As we settled down to sleep later on that evening, my 3 year old niece snuggled up and told me she loved me. To be a part of these little lives is an amazing gift that I have been given.

It was a joy to wake to their smiling faces and some giddy Saturday morning antics. I couldn't help but feel a little melancholy as I prayed for these moments to never be taken from me.

I had my surgery Monday morning. My mother came to NJ over the weekend and stayed at my house with my kids. I woke up from the anesthesia to my husband and my father sitting there together waiting patiently for me. I spent the afternoon sleeping off and on, groggy and tired waking up occasionally to my own sweet angel cuddled up next to me, relieved I was home and content to just be by my side.

Even in the haze of anesthesia and pain medication, I thought:
"What a beautiful life I have been given."
One that I hope I never take for granted.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Comfort Zone

excuse my disarray ~ renovating the kitchen while still using it is no easy feat!

As you can see the kitchen is coming along but not yet finished even though I went back to work on Monday. Some things took a lot longer than I expected and I had to keep switching up the order in which certain tasks were being completed.
In true Eleanor fashion, I also have an inaugural dinner party planned this Saturday night to which the guests have already been invited.
Crazy. I know.

The kitchen cabinets are painted and came out AMAZINGLY!
The Benjamin Moore primer went right over the gloss wood finish with no sanding required just as I was promised. The paint took a solid 2 coats - even a third touch up where I wasn't as heavy handed with the primer.
Covering the wallpaper on the soffet and wall was a whole other story. It has been a tedious nightmare to ensure we are doing it 100%. I obviously still have to paint the walls and soffet my Benjamin Moore Pilgrim Haze gray. I keep reminding myself to visualize how the gray will ground all the blaring whiteness that currently abounds.
In another post about color palettes, I shared with you all how I wanted to add a touch of coral alongside the gray and white. I found a pretty coral fruit bowl at Homegoods last weekend (you can see it in the far right of the first picture) and it inspired me to gather a few more pieces of kitchen decor.
Since I had to replace the corner shelves around my sink, I envisioned them complete with assorted decorative bowls and other ceramics. I really want to do something different and step out of my comfort zone a little.
Off I went to Anthropologie to see what they had to offer. I love the look of mix match patterns and bold colors with an almost bohemian feel. I can stare longingly for hours at Pinterest and my Instagram feed at spaces effortlessly and eclectically slapped together.
I want that for my kitchen.
So I bought these:

Ayaka bowl ~ Anthro

Mini Latte Bowls in coral and teal ~ Anthro

A single printed bowl on one side, a mixed stack of mini bowls in teal and coral on the eclectic, fun and so complimentary to the color palette.
When I arrived home, unwrapped them and placed them, it was just way too much.
Too bold. Too crazy for me.
I think I will hate them within 6 months and be wasting money swapping them out.
I started thinking about a safer color palette, a more classic accent color.
I remembered these navy ikat dishes I saw at West Elm and started thinking that maybe navy with a piece of coral here and there is a safer bet for me.

Ikat bowls ~ West Elm

No matter what I do, I can never step away from my comfort zone in my home.
While I dream bohemian and admire eclectic from afar, I will always feel best with my roots in the classic and traditional.
I returned the bowls to Anthro and found an amazing mat for the floor in a navy/gray and white stripe with a bold coral edge.
So navy and coral it is.
It feels so much better this way.

Do you dream of stepping out of your comfort zone but find yourself unable to do so?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Kitchen Update

Operation Kitchen Facelift is in full effect over here this week. And true to any kind of home renovations/improvements, it isn't going as smoothly as you hope it would.
We are replacing all of the lighting in the kitchen courtesy of the best youngest brother in the world. Unfortunately, he is still running ragged with work thanks to Superstorm Sandy and he was good enough to stop by Monday night after spending the entire day on one of the devastated barrier islands to rough in my recessed lighting so I can paint the ceiling.
(Thanks Chris - You're the best!)
Of course when we pulled down the old, hideous flourescent ceiling fixture we found a few nice holes in the sheetrock from some obvious installation mishaps. Now we have some patching to do prior to painting.

Let there be light!

The unpatched hole is where pendant #1 will be installed over the peninsula.
We didn't put the right flood bulbs in or install the lenses yet until after we paint.
The difference since removing the flourescent fixture is astounding. Monday night Charlie and I just stood in the kitchen marveling over how amazing it is even in mid-state.

I ordered 3 pendants for the kitchen: 2 for my peninsula and one for over the sink.
After we removed the dated, scalloped wood bridge that connected the cabinets and the curtain we discovered that the sink was not installed evenly under the window.
I guess the other pieces masqueraded this - but it poses a problem to adding a light.
Line it up to the window?
Line it up to the sink?
Since we are not replacing the counters at this time and trying to keep the project within a modest budget, we are forgoing the light. My brother installed a recessed pot close enough to the sink area to provide adequate lighting.
As you can see, my kitchen window is under a breezeway to the garage so I was going to leave it curtainless to allow more natural light. Depending on how off center the sink looks when done I might have to revisit it and add something.
Maybe a roman shade?
We also removed the corner shelves that flanked the sink, which I dubbed the "granny shelves".
Well, guess what was lurking behind them?

Oh, just a cabinet that doesn't meet the wall or have a front!?!?!?!
This was a serious WTH....we stood in disbelief for a solid 15 minutes.
We have known for the 7 years we have lived here that the prior owner used a half-ass handyman to do all of her home improvement projects. In fact, the night we closed on the house he knocked at the door to very proudly introduce himself and offer his services to us.
(Yes, it was weird. And we said "Thanks, but no thanks")
Now we have no option but to reinstall the corner shelves or replace the cabinets.
See what I mean when I say it is never easy???
Needless to say, the shelves are going back on. I'll make it work.

Since the Northeast is in for another round of bad storms, I ran out yesterday to get all of the paint I need so I won't have to leave the house for a few days.
I ran into Benjamin Moore to get my Chelsea Gray only to be horrified by the swatch of it.
It is WAY too dark!!!!!
I want a bold gray, but the kitchen struggles with natural light so I need to be cautious. After some debating, I settled on Pilgrim Haze. I like how it pulls the gray out of the countertop and with the cabintery redone in white it should work - fingers crossed it is not too overbearing!
Speaking of the walls, Charlie spent all day Sunday removing the wallpaper border from only one wall. It took all day and true to our experiences so far with this house, it is pulling off sheetrock with it. Years ago when we removed the wallpaper from the hallways of the house (a lovely 80's silver and mauve brushstoke design that covered a 70's American Eagle printed paper - awesome!) we had a family friend who does sheetrock for a living here almost every night for a month repairing those walls. It was a total nightmare.
Yesterday morning I googled how to just paint over wallpaper to save us another major issue and Benjamin Moore's website said "Yes!" "It's possible!" and provided good instructions. Since we will have to respackle the walls anyway, we are plunging forward and giving the paint over a go. More fingers crossed that it works out just fine! I ended up buying all Benjamin Moore paints for the room. They even have a primer and paint for the cabinets that will allow me to avoid sanding.
Hooray for that!

Tell me about your DIY renovation nightmares...I know I can't be the only one!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Making Spring Happen

 I kicked off a week of "staycation" with a healthy dose of spring cleaning and adding some warmer weather touches around the house. I use the same decorative elements year after year, I just reinvent them constantly.
The birch branch in my built in bookcase has been hanging there for ages - ever since I first installed it as Christmas decor. I find myself changing it's purpose each season and it was just perfect for a pastel spring bunting. My cloches rarely find themselves shelved anymore, for spring I changed out the gilded winter pedestals they rested on to a pair made of gorgeous turned wood. The oversized cloche fits perfectly over a woven twig nest that my daughter Ryan filled with fuzzy faux chicks.
 I love using raw bits of nature and natural textures in my home decor. Woven rugs, trays and baskets, vases filled with river rocks and weathered wood and metals have their chance to shine over polished floors and proper home furnishings. 

How do you bring the seasons into your home?

Operation Kitchen Facelift is in full effect and as of last night I have roughed in recessed lighting! Of course the horrific wallpaper border has proved a nightmare to get off and we removed some corner shelves only to discover what can only be described as half-assed handiwork. I'll have pictures and a more detailed update tomorrow.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

The Best Of: February

You're short, sweet and make your point that winter isn't done with us yet.
You started out amazing, continued your momentum then ended your time with us by reminding me how fragile we all are.
While I look forward to March ushering in Spring and the rejuvenation I always feel as the days get longer and inevitably warmer, I can't help but look back and reminisce about those few short weeks that make up the second month of the year.

we enjoyed a few more pretty snowstorms...

...started a new family tradition of going out to dinner with my dad and brother at least once a month. we are one fun party of 10....

...played games with my best girl...

...and baked together....

...then enjoyed the fruits of our labor...

...spent a lot of time in the kitchen and churned out a bevvy of italian meals...

...spent a lazy saturday morning spent going through momentos my paternal grandfather left behind...they are truly treasures to me...

...ended the month with a week in one of my favorite cities.
new york, you make days filled with 9 hour meetings a little less painful.

What were the best parts of your February?