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January 30, 2015

craft party preparation

Back at the beginning of January I took a pretty pen and lined through the entire last week of the month so that I would have plenty of time to do the preparation work and cleaning before my first craft workshop of the year tonight.

I spent December perusing pinterest looking for all things Valentine, narrowed it down to a few doable favorites and used the entire month of January cutting and gluing and making cute things whenever I had a little free time.  That left this last week of the month to get the house ready and bring it all together.

I can't tell you what a difference this made.  I am usually frantic the two days prior to an event or party with never enough time to get it all done.  This time I set myself little time marks and adjusted my plans and expectation based on real time...not Patty's imaginative head time.

I've learned the hard way that if I leave it until the last minute (although I am good under pressure) I don't get to do all the fun things I have planned.

So many fun cute things...

I can't wait to show it all to you next week and give you a few easy tips and ideas on hosting your own craft party.  It is the best way to make new friends or spend a fun night with old ones.

Happy Friday and have a wonderful weekend.

xo, Patty

January 28, 2015

party preparation and fashion Wednesday

I've been busy this week with the preparations for my first craft workshop of the year, a Valentine Makerie, this Friday.  The project kits are just about finished, the goody jars are made (and cute as can be) and the menu and grocery list are at the ready.  I think I get as excited about these events as my guests do.  But I'm getting ahead of myself, that's not until Friday and I'll share more about it a little later.

As for today, it's Wednesday and that means it's all about fashion.  Last time I showed you five different ways I styled a basic t-shirt and blue jeans, this week we'll take the same concept only the staple pieces I chose were a pair of black dress pants and a basic black top.

For the first look I started with the basic black pants and shirt and I chose a pair of black pumps leftover from my working wardrobe.  I added a leopard scarf and some classic gold jewelry.  This outfit could take me from daytime to evening no problem.

Here I just added my red thrift store blazer and pearls and it changed the look completely.  I could see myself wearing this for a meeting, a nice dinner with my hubby or to church on Sunday morning.

I love cardigans and luckily they are fairly inexpensive.  I have several of them in all sorts of different colors.  Here I've added one in hot pink which is one of my favorite fashion colors right now.  This one is from Old Navy.  I have to confess I always thought Old Navy was for the twenty somethings but their staple pieces have worked well in my revamped wardrobe and their sale prices are really good.  I swapped my pumps for leopard flats, added a gold tassel necklace and now I could wear this outfit any day of the week.

Next, I traded the cardigan for a blue chambray shirt.  I wish I had bought this shirt in one size smaller because I feel like it kind of swallows me up every time I wear it.  I love the look but just wish it was a little more fitted.  I tried it with both the leopard flats and black booties.  What do you think?

And finally, I threw a sweater over the black top for a little warmth.  The sweater has a boat neckline which is not my most flattering so having the shirt on underneath kind of minimized this.  Here again I love the look and softness of this sweater but felt like it was a bit loose and not very flattering on me.  Luckily, I had never worn it and it still had the tags on so it was quickly placed in my return pile.

Taking pictures of my outfits has certainly given me a new perspective on what styles look best on me.  Even if you don't blog I would encourage you to take a few selfies in a full length mirror.  You might be surprised at how different clothes accentuate your figure.  I used to think looser fitting clothes would make me appear slimmer, now I don't think that's true. My body has certainly changed over the years and what used to flatter me really doesn't any more.

Of course when you stick an adorable six year old (who tucked his shirt in and put on a belt just for the occasion) next to you anything you have on just looks cuter.

Not sure what next Wednesday will bring but I'm thinking it will involve Spring color.  Any ideas or suggestions?  I'd love to hear.

xo, Patty

black tuxedo pants - The Loft
black shirt - Walmart
leopard scarf - Walgreens
pink cardigan - Old Navy
blue chambray shirt - Old Navy
Eyelash sweater - Target
leopard flats - Kohls
black booties - Kohls
gold tassel necklace - Walmart

January 26, 2015

thoughts on Monday morning

Don't hate me but now that I no longer work outside the home I love Monday mornings, not quite as much as the weekend but they are a pretty close second.

I love to pour my coffee, serve myself something sweet, get out my planner and dream about the week ahead.  Reminding myself about commitments and maybe adding one or two more.

Scheduling in a little time to be creative and firming up my menu for the week.  Jotting down errands and necessary items to be picked up from the grocery store.

Creating a little order after the weekend has become something I look forward to.  I take my time, enjoy my coffee, and count my blessings.  I find that when I'm purposeful in seeking them, they are many.

Happy Monday!

xo, Patty

January 23, 2015

what a wonderful world...

One of the best things about a quiet, empty house is sneaking up the stairs to my craft studio and spending an hour or two or the whole afternoon creating things and no one is the wiser, except me.

I'm loving the balance of my life right now between watching the grand kids and time alone.  I am finding that I love both, one keeps me feeling needed and the other keeps me sane.  Tip the balance either way and I can get a bit grumpy and discontent.

I wrote about the season of transition from full house to empty nest I'm in right now a couple of weeks ago and I just happened on this video from Stephanie of The Honey Pot where she talks about how she found contentment as her nest became empty.  I was already moving into thriving and enjoying this time but she just confirmed my feelings with her words of encouragement.

I think every stage of our lives can have a bit of discontentment mingled in.

Finding joy in every season, acknowledging the brevity of time and finding something positive, unique and cherish worthy, is the key to really enjoying life no matter what stage of life we're in.  Don't you think?  This can be especially true with our children.

My daughters are 28 and 30 and I'm learning to treat them as friends and to just enjoy my time with them.  Accepting that I have taught them (through words and hopefully by example) all they need to know to be good, kind people.  Trying to wait for them to ask my advice before I give it and accepting that they are going to live their lives and raise their kids to the best of their ability with their own ideas and that's okay.

If I sound like this comes easy to me, it definitely does not.  Everything in my personality wants to hold on and take control.  If they would just do it my way life would be so much easier, right?  It has taken me a whole lot of years of learning and re-learning this lesson the hard way to finally accept the inevitable, I am not in control.

The coolest thing is that now that I've arrived at this point, each of my girls has reminded me in the last week or two that they still need and want me to be their mom as well as their friend and I think that does make it a pretty wonderful world.

xo, Patty

Prints of this original mixed media art piece are available in my etsy shop here.

January 21, 2015

busy days and fashion Wednesday

I don't know about you but Wednesday kind of snuck up on me this week.  Between watching the grandboys over the weekend and the holiday on Monday it seems like I lost a day somewhere.  It was such a busy weekend but the best kind of busy filled with food, family and fun.

Anyone ready for fashion Wednesday?  Let's get on with it, shall we?

I am starting a series of posts on how to style staple pieces in multiple ways.  It seems we are all trying to simplify our lives and purge our homes of excess stuff and our closets are no exception.  I am learning that with a few good basic pieces in my wardrobe I can still have a fun and versatile arsenal of clothes for any occasion.

I thought I would begin with something I wear most everyday, jeans and a t-shirt.   I talked a little last week about finding a tee that you really love and buying it in several colors and this one from Old Navy is definitely a favorite.  It's called the perfect Tee and it is.  I paired it with my blue curvy skinny jeans from The Loft which I love,  as well.  With a cute pair of leopard flats and a casual statement necklace I am ready to run errands around town in no time at all.

Here I've added a mustard yellow cardigan sweater, another favorite thing in my closet.  This one is from Target and I like how light weight it is and the length is perfect for my body shape.  I added a cute polka dot scarf and my brown riding boots and I'm ready for lunch with a friend or a casual afternoon drive with my hubby.

I exchanged the cardigan for my jean jacket switched out the scarf and jewelry and it changed the look of the outfit completely.  Still casual but able to transition to cooler afternoon or evening events.

Same scarf here, it's a new favorite by MUDD that I bought at Kohls but I exchanged the jean jacket for a quilted vest.  When I saw puffy vests were in style I was afraid the bulk of one would not flatter my fuller figure so I opted to purchase this quilted one from Kohls.  I reach for it often and throw it on whenever I need a little warmth but not quite a sweater.  Vests are on my short list of things I want to add to my wardrobe right now.  I think they will make a nice transition into Spring.

And finally a little dressed up version of the t-shirt and jean combo.  This is the third blazer that I found at Goodwill.  I think I paid around $7.00 for it and then another $7.00 to have it dry cleaned.  It is a pretty creamy linen and I know I will wear it a ton.  I switched out my riding boots for these dressier booties from Macy's.  Add some thrift store pearls and you are good to go out for a night on the town.

So there you have it.  Same jeans and tee but styled five different ways.  What did you think?  The possibilities are limitless.

xo, Patty

I'm joining the following linky parties
 Get Your Pretty On
and The Pleated Poppy

January 19, 2015

simple salsa recipe

I almost forgot it was Monday.  My daughter worked the late shift yesterday and asked us to keep her boys overnight so the lazy busyness of this morning feels more like a Saturday.  Lazy because there's no school...busy because well, I have two little's in the house wanting breakfast and cartoons and bottles and diapers changed and my attention in general.

Once I got everyone settled I whipped up a big batch of my super simple salsa recipe.

It is almost automatic for me to pick up the ingredients for this recipe with my weekly grocery schedule.  I love having them on hand to make up a fresh batch every week.

For the recipe you'll need...

1 large can of whole tomatoes
1 or 2 jalapenos, depending on your heat index
half an onion, whatever kind you have hand will do
two large cloves of garlic
fresh cilantro, I use about half the bunch

I use my small food processor and it all fits...just barely.

Rough chop all your veggies being sure to take the seeds and membranes out of your jalapenos. Drain the juice out of the can of tomatoes into a large bowl and set aside.  Pour about a quarter cup of the juice from the tomatoes into the processor and add all the veggies and pulse until they are chopped finely but not pureed.  You just don't want to see any large chunks of veggies left.  Then add the tomatoes a few at a time giving them just a couple of quick pulses until you've used all the tomatoes.  Once you've pulsed it all together pour it into the bowl with the remaining tomato juice and stir together.  Salt as desired, it takes a bit of salt but use your own discretion.

Pour into canning jars and refrigerate.   It tastes best after a couple of hours but we always eat some right away.  It will stay good at least a week in the fridge if it lasts that long.

See, super simple salsa.  Give it a try and you'll never go back to the bottled stuff.

Happy Monday!

xo, Patty

January 16, 2015

carving out time

I took advantage of a wonderfully unscheduled day yesterday and carved out a little time for me.  Other than running my grandson to school in the morning, my car never left the drive way.

One cup of coffee turned into two and then three.

My quiet time grew from 15 minutes of reflection to nearly an hour with reference books cracked and even a little study in Greek.

I chopped the vegetables for dinner and remembered to put the meat in the marinade nice and early.  And I made a batch of homemade salsa which I'll share with you next week.

The side patio, which is the main entrance for family and friends, finally got a good cleaning and the kitchen herb pots got trimmed back, weeded and semi-prepped for a new planting next week.

I even managed to spend a couple of hours in my craft studio doing a little busy work for my upcoming workshop and I cut out a few hearts...actually lots and lots of hearts.  After dinner I sat and strung some of them into this pretty Valentine inspired garland.

All my favorite colors hanging side by side to cheer up my post holiday mantel.  I love the randomness of the shapes and the willy nilly color scheme, don't you?

It felt so good to be both productive and filled with joy over what my life is becoming.

Happy Friday!

xo, Patty

January 14, 2015

wardrobe staples and fashion Wednesday

When you're putting a new wardrobe together mostly from scratch as I have been doing or if you're just trying to adapt your existing wardrobe to a new season in your life, I have found that it's best to establish a core group of staples that you can mix and match with a few inexpensive accessories to keep them fresh and fun.

Today I want to talk about t-shirts which are a staple in my wardrobe for sure.  If you are like me you have your favorite qualities in a tee and when you find one you love you tend to want to purchase it in all your favorite colors.

I like a t-shirt that has some give to it but is thick enough that I don't have to wear a tank top underneath if I don't want to.  It needs to be long enough to allow me to raise my arms without baring my mid section but short enough to tuck into my pants without rolling up at the bottom.

I have tried expensive ($15- $20) brands and bargain basement (under $5) as well.

I bought this black and white long sleeve tee from Faded Glory on a whim at Walmart for around $6.00.  This stripe was on my list of staples I wanted in my wardrobe and I thought at that price it was worth a try.

And I'm happy to say that I love it.  It meets all my favorite T-shirt criteria and has held it's shape well in the wash to boot.  I'm looking forward to styling it in all these cute ways that I found on pinterest.   And yes, I went back and bought it in a couple of my favorite colors.

                                                                    (sources via pinterst)

My hope for the coming weeks is to start taking a couple of my wardrobe staples and show you how I've styled them in a few different ways.

Since we're talking wardrobe stables ,what are the five things in your closet that you consider the basics of your wardrobe?  I think mine would be jeans, t-shirts, cardigan/blazer, white blouse and maybe one versatile dress.

xo, Patty

grey jeans - the loft
striped tee - walmart
black scarf - walmart
grey booties - zappos
earrings and bracelet -target

January 13, 2015

comfort food on a blustery day

I have to admit with all my love of list making I am not the best at writing down what I need before heading to the grocery store.  I tend to make and therefore buy the same things every week and could very likely do my shopping blind folded.

But this year I have made up my mind to be a better meal planner, even trying a new recipe every now and then and that means making out a shopping list.  Once I sat down and pulled out a few cookbooks I actually began to enjoy myself.

It was raining and dreary as I was planning my menu and for me cold weather means good old fashioned comfort food.

Along with a scalloped potato and ham casserole, beef fajitas and oven baked chicken and rice pilaf on the menu this week, I bought all the fixings for this homemade chicken pot pie from Andrea at Everyday Beauty.

I didn't waste anytime when I got home from the grocery store.  After putting the food away I slipped on my favorite apron and started peeling and dicing.  I did cheat a little bit with a refrigerated store bought crust but other than that I followed the recipe to a tee and ended up with the most delicious hot, bubbly chicken pot pie.

A green salad, green beans and some warm rolls rounded out the meal.

The perfect way to warm up the house on a rainy weekend day.  And did I mention the smell was to die for.  Okay, now that I've made you hungry, I'd love to hear what your favorite comfort food is on a blustery day?

xo, Patty