Friday, November 27, 2015

Saturday Spotlight: Life behind the blogger

Debbie from Mountain Mamma

 Saturday Spotlight: Life Behind the Blogger is a feature done each Saturday that introduces you to a blogger you may already know or a new blogger for you to get to know. This feature gives you a peak into the personal life of the blogger.  Getting to know the special person behind the beautiful blog.

There is so much talent and inspiration in blogland so enjoy getting to know these talented bloggers each Saturday.

Happy Week End following Turkey Day!!!! Hope you are enjoying all the friends and family that have gathered this week to share in Thanksgiving.

Now that we are all recovering still from all that rich and yummy food.  I invite you to meet a fairly new blogger to me.  I found Debbie not too long ago and adore her blog.  You will love getting to know this special blogger.

First of all, a huge thank you to Kris for inviting me to her fabulous feature - I was so excited and honored that she thought of me!!  

Thanks so much, Kris - big hugs to you!! xo


H, All!

I'm Debbie! Nice to meet you!!

I recently bought my very own house in the mountains of Upstate NY and I write about my life at MountainMama  - if you haven't been over for a visit perhaps you'll make time soon to come over and introduce yourself! I'm always so happy to meet new blogland friends!

I was inspired to start writing about my life as a 40+ single woman buying her own house for the very first time - and I'm loving it! Both the house and the blogging!!

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Where do I begin?

Why, at the beginning, of course, where else?

I still can't play the piano. Sigh. 
I was born in Queens, NY back in....oh, wait, you don't need to know that. Never mind....

I have two sisters - one older and one younger. We are each two years apart. You know what they say about the middle child, right? Yup, much of it's true.

I'm the bratty looking one on the left
I am first-generation American - both of my parents are from Ireland. They both left home when they were very young to pursue a better life in the USA.

We were raised on Irish music and dance. My sisters and I all attended Irish music lessons as well as Irish Step-dancing from a very young age. It was very much a part of our lives and we made many good friends through not only the classes but the various competitions and concerts.

My parents were strict - we weren't those kids that were permitted to "hang out" after school. We had to come straight hour of practicing music, then time to practice our dance steps, and then do all our homework. Dinner, clean up after dinner, and then a little TV. Brush teeth and into bed. Repeat. 

Sundays were different - up early, out to mass, and then stop at our favorite bakery on the way home for a Sunday treat. Fresh rye bread with butter. Maybe a jelly or custard donut. And we didn't have to practice music or dance - Sunday was our day to do what we wanted.

As long as Mom said it was ok.

We weren't those kids that hung out in the park getting into trouble. Mom kept a close rein on us.

And I thank her for it now. A lot of those kids ended up in very bad places in their lives. Queens wasn't the easiest place to grow up.

We went to catholic school - in Queens the public schools back then were not the best place to send your kids if you wanted to keep them out of trouble.

My parents struggled. Things were tough. Dad had a bunch of jobs and they were still struggling to make ends meet. We refer to that portion of our life as the "Campbell's Soup Days." 

Eventually Dad made the tough decision to head off to Alaska to work on the Alaskan Pipeline. He was gone for what seemed like an eternity to Daddy's Little Girl (aka ME!)

He would come home around Christmas time for a short while and then head off again. I missed him terribly.

But that made a big difference in our lives. Dad was able to send home enough money to get ahead of the bills and to make a good life for his family.

Life was good. We had a good childhood. The highlight of my childhood was the summer Dad returned from Alaska....we bought a travel trailer and took the whole summer traveling around the United States. 

We saw 26 states that summer in our little Shasta trailer.

I have dreams of doing that again someday.....

When I was 17 I met my first husband. I married him at 21. Had my first daughter at 22. Second at 23. Divorced by 26. Single mom with two beautiful baby girls.

When I was 27 I met my second husband. Married again at 30, I thought it would be forever. It wasn't. 

I wrote about the struggles I went through in that marriage over  At The Women's Room

Me - AKA Morticia Addams - with the Violin
I had a nice little music career going when I was in NYC - lead singer with a Celtic Rock band. I also played violin, guitar, and whistle with that group. It was a fun time and I enjoyed my time on stage very much. Unfortunately I had to give it up when I dropped everything to care for my then-husband for a solid year after one of his terrible accidents. 

Life wasn't always easy. I guess it never is. But I am so blessed to have my two beautiful daughters. There are so many people who have kids who struggle with addictions these days and my heart truly goes out to them - I'm incredibly fortunate that my daughters never went down that road. They easily could have, I'm sure they had lots of friends who dabbled....but thankfully they listened to some of my lectures while they were growing up and chose to stay on the straight and narrow. 

Although you'd wonder what they were smoking in this photo, wouldn't you?

My older daughter currently lives in Burlington, Vermont. She attended Champlain College in Burlington and loved it so much she never came back to NY. She's been a blogger since 2013 - she writes at Kind of Mind and has always been a wonderful writer and incredibly creative person. She's got energy to burn and has never stopped talking since the day she said her first word. She's got the travel bug and has been all over the world already - Africa, South Africa, South America, The Middle East, Europe - not to mention all over the US as well. She's seen more in her short life than I have in mine. But that's ok - that's what makes her happy.

I'm happy right here.

My younger daughter lives at home with me. She went to school locally and is much more a homebody than her big sister. She's also a blogger - she writes at The Good Things Comin and she's a bit of a new blogger, just like her mom. She's always had a knack for photography and her own unique style when it comes to fashion and she incorporates that and so much more in her blog.

I'm so lucky to have two such wonderful daughters and I thank my lucky stars every day.

Even when they drive me nuts.

I have two little furbabies who also drive me nuts at times. But they also light up my life. They are mother and daughter and my old girl is getting up there - she was 13 in September. Her baby is 6 now and sometimes she's as bratty as can be....but when she's good, she's really, really good!!

Baby Daisy & Her Mommy, Lily
My old girl, Lily. She's got a tough life, as you can tell. 
The bratty baby, Daisy (AKA The Monkey) - also a rough life, as you can tell by the worried look on her face. 
I'm very fortunate to have a good man in my life now also. We have been in a relationship for 5 years now and yet we have our own homes and choose to live separately. Once bitten, twice shy, and all that....what about twice bitten? How does that go?

This is the first "grown up" relationship I've been in, where both partners are responsible adults. We look out for each other - neither of us needs to "babysit" the other. It's refreshing after all I've been through!

And it's peaceful. We have a good life.

I am so blessed.

Thank you Debbie for sharing your life behind your blog with all of us.  Don't miss out on hoping over to introduce yourself to Debbie.  Her blog is fabulous.  Have a great week end.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Girlfriend Charity Christmas Party and Give Away

Each year I host a Girlfriend Charity Christmas Party at my home on the first Friday of December.  I have been doing this for several years.

Every year each girl brings a beautiful gift to exchange that some or all of the proceeds from buying this gift benefit their favorite charity.

It always touches my heart to see the beautiful gifts that everyone comes up with for the gift exchange.

Each girl will be able to talk about the gift they bring for the exchange and why the benefiting charity is important to them.  The stories are heart warming.

We gather at my home and I usually have a theme for the party.  Last year's theme was Tequila and Tiara's.  We all wore Tiara's and had yummy Margarita's.  Anyway you get the idea about the theme!!!

This year is a Let's Whine (wine) that this is probably the last Girlfriend party in this home! (Since my home is up for sale.)

All my favors and prizes are wine themed.

Each girl wears their favorite Christmas jammies.  We all know it is more comfy to drink and eat in your jammies.  We really have a wonderful group that gathers each year to celebrate our love and friendships for each other.

This is my dining room table from the other day.  I started with all the stuff I needed to make up favors and prizes for the party.

I found these cute magnet Christmas lists at Michaels in the dollar bins.  Just adorable.

I added some Hershey's kisses and a red pen. An instant favor for less than $2 for each girl.

Michael's also had the sweetest note cards in the bins too. 

Look at these cute wine gift bags they had in the bins too.  They had several different designs one cuter than the next.

 I put each memo pad in a clear cello bag with some chocolate kisses and the pens and then tied them off with ribbon and small candy canes.  I think these will be a cute favor for each girlfriend to take home.  These will come in handy as they start their lists for the holidays.

Just wanted you to see my design assistant Libby is on break in the upper left corner.  Apparently her union contract states if the sun is streaming in the french doors she gets to sun herself.   She needed to nap while I was doing all the work!!!!!
Cute straws for our drinks in all different designs like the bags.

Since the Party is wine themed.  I got these cute wine purse/clutches.  Each girl is going to bring their favorite bottle of wine.  I will give each of them one of these cute wine purses for their bottle of wine.  We will play a game with the purses and wine and each girl will win a cute wine purse and bottle of wine to take home.

Loved this cheetah pattern.  Too cute!

Each wine purse comes with an insulated interior so this could be a multi tasking purse.  Maybe even used as a cute lunch tote!

Inside the zipper compartment each purse comes with a wine opener.

I found these cute wine purses at Marshall's and Home Goods.  They were on clearance for $7 each.  What a cool wine purse for $7.  They came in so many pretty patterns.
The hot pink is my favorite.  Love the cheetah pattern too.  Should be fun to play the wine game so everyone gets a nice bottle of wine and cute wine purse to take home.

One of the prizes I made up was this wonderful glamour satin pillow case.  If you sleep with this on your pillow it will give you smoother skin and healthier hair.  I found this at Home Goods and they came in different designs.  I got one for myself!  So we will see if my skin gets smoother and younger looking lol!
Also put in with this pillow case a wine mask.  Yep found these wine facial masks too.
So happy to find cute inexpensive wine themed things for prizes.

Now on to the Give Away.  You gotta love Home Goods.  I am addicted to Home Goods I will admit it!  That is my happy place to go!!!  Each year Home Goods brings out a shopping tote that when purchased the proceeds go to a wonderful charity.  They are only 99 cents to begin with but they sell so many of these it adds up quickly to benefit the charity.

This years tote proceeds are going to the Dana-Farber Jimmy Fund that helps kids with cancer.  My younger daughter Kim works as an pediatric oncology nurse at Lurie's Children's Hospital in Chicago.  I loved that Home Goods picked a pediatric cancer fund this year for the proceeds.

The art work used on the tote was done by a young girl (Kate 6 yrs. old) that is undergoing cancer treatments.

Love the sweet flowers she painted for the design of this tote.
 I am giving each of my girlfriends a tote to take home all her treasures from the party.  

I bought extra's so I have a few of these to give away to some lucky blog friends.

All you have to do is just leave me a message.  That's it no hoops to jump through or sign ups!  Just leave me a message and I will enter you into the giveaway for one of these totes.

If you are a no reply blogger please make sure you leave your email address so if you are picked I have a way to contact you.

Have a wonderful week ahead.  I want to wish safe travels for each of you traveling this week for Thanksgiving.  For all the rest of you that will be home for Thanksgiving have a wonderful day with family and friends.

I am thankful for all the sweet friendships I have been blessed with in this land they call blogging!!!  So blessed to know each of you.
Happy Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Saturday Spotlight: Life Behind the Blogger

Maria Elena from Our Home Away From Home. 

 Saturday Spotlight: Life Behind the Blogger is a feature done each Saturday that introduces you to a blogger you may already know or a new blogger for you to get to know. This feature gives you a peak into the personal life of the blogger.  Getting to know the special person behind the beautiful blog.

There is so much talent and inspiration in blogland so enjoy getting to know these talented bloggers each Saturday.

Good Saturday every one.  This week we have a special blogger Maria Elena from Our Home Away From Home blog.  You will love getting to know Maria she has traveled the world raising her kids and her blog is fabulous.  So sit back and read and get to know Maria and then head over to her blog and say Hi.

Hello, everyone!
 I was so happy and honored when Kris asked me to be a part of her "life behind the blogger" series.
Thank you, Kris! I really appreciate you thinking of me.
  My name is Maria Elena and I blog over at Our Home Away From Home. 

Although we live in TX, I was born and raised very far from here, in Madrid, Spain where my parents 
and two brothers still reside.

I married my best friend and soulmate in 1981, he had just joined the US Army the year before and leaving my beloved Spain and my family behind was one of the most difficult things I ever had to do.
This year we will celebrating our 34th wedding anniversary, so I guess it is safe to say, 
he was the best decision I ever made. :)

We spent 23 years traveling the world while raising our three children.

In 1995 I followed my life dream of working with young children and went back to school to get my degree in 
Early Childhood Education.
For many years after and while my husband was still serving, I worked for the military child development program.
Almost at the end of my husband's career, he received orders for San Antonio. It was one of the hardest moves we have ever made since the kids were older, but it turned out to be the best thing it could of happened to us.

In 2001, when we knew San Antonio would be the place where we would retire, I was able to achieve what I worked for so many years and I became the proud owner of a private preschool in our city. 

My husband finally retired from the military and we built our dream home.

Our home is everything we ever dreamed off and the fact that we don't have to move again is such a blessing to us.

We put a lot of pride in our home and you will always find us together working on a project or another to make improvements.
Many people have asked me what is my decorating style and I have to say, I do not have a clue. :)
I buy or make for our home what I like without really following any decorating trends. 
All I worry about is achieving a homey and comfortable home for my family.

At the end of 2008, the recession hit my business pretty hard and I had to make the hard decision of letting it go.
It was very difficult, but meant to be.
 Just a few months after, I received very bad health news and I had major surgery, which took me months to recuperate from.

Today, I am fully recovered and a very happy stay home mom. I love having the extra time to spoil my family and take care of this little girl.

I love to "play" in my home and I finally have all the time I want to pursue my other dream, decorating and crafting. :)
 I started my blog in September of 2011 as a way of sharing my decorating adventures. 
As is happen, it has proved to be an amazing learning experience.
I am so happy to be part of this wonderful blogging community!

2015 has been a special year for us. 
My husband and I have finally became first time grandparents to this beautiful baby boy.
He has brought so much joy to our family and he sure has changed our lives forever. :)

And that is it! 
I hope the life behind this blogger was not too boring for you. :)
I want to thank Kris for letting me be part of their wonderful blog series.
 I am very grateful to be in such great company!

Thank you so much Maria for sharing yourself and your story with us today.  Happy Saturday everyone.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

A Special Gift

Today was a good mail day.  I love when my mailman stops the truck and comes to the door with a great package.  

Today  mail man Jim brought up this lovely package from Jo at Annie's Attic Designs.

Jo gifted me this pretty white tulle wreath that she handmade.  It is gorgeous.  She used vintage ornaments to adorn the tulle.  Jo told me the top ornament was one that her dad use to put on his tree.  Love that she re loves precious vintage pieces into her beautiful creations.

I have been trying this pretty wreath out in a couple of places.  I like it on the old vintage cabinet door in my kitchen.

The vintage ornaments hanging on this pretty wreath just make it special.

We have been getting lots of rain which is always a challenge to get good pictures.    I did not have good natural light to really show off this wreath so I hung it on my french doors going outside.   This way you could see the pretty tulle and the gorgeous vintage bell ornament that Jo added that was her fathers.

Inside the box was another beautiful creation from Jo.  This framed hugs and kisses Christmas Tree made out of vintage bits and bobbles.  Just gorgeous pieces used to make this pretty framed tree.

It looks so pretty hung by my entry way tree.  Thank you sweet Jo.  I love both the wreath and framed X's and O's framed tree.  I will cherish them both.

I wanted to do this post not only to show you the sweet and beautiful gifts sent to me by Jo but to thank her by giving a shout out of her Etsy shop.  Please hop over to Jo's Etsy shop and take a look at all her beautiful creations she has for sale.

There are just so many wonderfully talented friends out there in blog land.  Jo is one of the sweetest and has a big heart.  Thank you Jo.  Love these beautiful treasures you gifted me.

Have a great rest of the week everyone.  Come back on Saturday to meet another wonderful blogger in Spotlight.