Decor - Travel - Lifestyle

January 30, 2015

My Essentials (to stay warm) for a Ski Weekend

This winter we are making an effort to take the kids skiing as much as possible.  Now that my 11 year old has become fearless on a pair of skis, we want to give him as much practice as we can.  My 8 year old is hanging in there but hasn't quite expressed the same enthusiasm as his older brother.
Vermont Skiing

As much as I love heading up to Vermont for a cozy weekend with the family, I really prefer the warmer weather.  I am a beach girl, not a snow bunny but I do enjoy the cold, snowy weather in small doses.

To help me deal with the cold, here are a few things I cannot live without on one of these snowy getaways...

* Please note that this post contains some affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I'll receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.

My number one essential to stay warm:
Hand Warmers - One of my essentials to stay warm
Hand Warmers and Foot Warmers!

Let me tell you, these things are a game changer for me.  You just pop them in your gloves or mittens, stick one on the top of each sock and you are good for the whole day.  I cannot ski without them.  I have Raynaud's Syndrome where my fingers turn white when exposed to cold temperatures so I literally could not ski without them.  I also use ski mittens instead of gloves.  I think my fingers stay warmer if they are clustered together than they would if separated in gloves.

I have had these mittens for many, many years...
Ski Mittens - one of my essentials to stay warm

Here is a link to similar ones - Gordini Aquablock - Women's Mitt or  Gordini - The Polor Mitt - Women's.  Although I might try these at some point since they are down filled!

For my socks, I used to try the whole layering thing with a silk sock and then another ski sock on top.  They would get all bunchy and practically cut off my wonder my feet were cold!   Anyway, one day at a ski shop I asked about socks and they hooked me up with these.
Ski Socks - one of my essentials to stay warm
You don't have to worry about wearing a liner and they are comfortable and warm.  Of course the foot warmer stuck on top of them helps too...Here is the link to these exact socks - Eurosocks.

My ski pants aren't pretty.  They are just the standard bulky looking black ones....nothing special. Back in the 90's I used to wear those legging type of wool ski pants that everyone wore but they really didn't keep me that warm.  I need to be more practical.  Now if I fall trying to catch up with my 11 year old, I won't feel wet all day!

Along with the silk sock liners I used to wear, I used to line my ski pants with silk long underwear because someone told me that was the thing to do years ago.  I don't know if they were that effective in keeping me warm but what does keep me warm are these $9.99 fleece lined leggings from Marshall's!
Ski Leggings - one of my winter essentials

I picked them up before our last trip because my silk underwear had seen better days - and what a difference!  Love these things...especially since they are super inexpensive!  These are very similar if you are interested.

Speaking of leggings, I ordered these adorable leggings from White Plum a couple months ago.
Print Leggings
Do they scream ski weekend to you or what?  

Of course, no ski trip is complete without my little snow dog...
Golden retriever in the snow

Yeah, I had to throw her in there.  Technically, she does keep me warm when she is snuggling so she qualifies for my list ;).  She has been having the time of her life out in that snow this year though!  Maybe she can teach me a few things about enjoying the cold!

And because Rosie is such a "snow dog", she even got included in our family ski art!  Check out this adorable Christmas present my sister in-law bought us...
Ski Art
This is the Personalized Family Ski Art from Uncommon Goods.  She always gives us the most creative gifts but I think this one is my favorite so far!  As you can see, it's our family on the ski lift including Rosie in the last chair.  Isn't it darling?  I noticed on their website that they also make personalized family art with other themes including bike, canoe, holiday...They are all so cute and make perfect gifts!

So that's my list of essentials for a ski weekend.  I guess the ski art isn't "essential" but I had to share it with you because it's so special!

Oh yeah - we can't forget a fire!  
Roaring fire - one of my winter essentials

If it were up to me, I would spend the entire ski weekend sipping hot chocolate wine in front of one of these...

Click HERE to read about one of our recent ski trips!

What are your ski/cold weather essentials?

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Must Haves to Stay Warm on a Ski Trip

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January 27, 2015

My Fireplace Mantel - 4 Ways for Spring

It's that in-between stage where the Christmas decor is down but I haven't yet decided what to do this time of year.

Let's look back at my mantel decorated in 4 different warm weather themes:

(Please click the link below each photo to take you to the full post.)

This mantel could work for spring or Valentine's Day
 since the tulips are red...
Red Tulips

Another very similar spring theme with bunnies added for Easter...
and I ironically I titled this one"Simple Spring Mantel" too (so original!)

I guess a wine theme could be any season, 
but I think the colors work best for spring!...

And with a kitchen renovation coming up, 
this is about as close to a "spring vacation" as I will get this year!
(Bonus - Rosie as a puppy makes an appearance in this post!)

I hope these mantels give you some ideas for decorating yours this spring!

What do you do with your mantel 
this time of year?

I would love for you follow along so you don't miss a post!

Mantel Decor - 4 Ideas for Spring

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January 25, 2015

Seize the Snow

Yesterday we received our first significant snowfall of 2015.  

And Rosie couldn't wait to bolt outside
and do the "Crazy Dog Run"
around the yard.

 A great reminder to live each day with passion.

 "We have a finite amount of time.  
Whether short or long, it doesn't matter.  
Life is to be lived."  - Randy Pausch

Rosie definitely knew how to seize the day!

I hope your week is filled with just as much enthusiasm!

Are you remembering to live in the moment?

January 23, 2015

My Flooring Decision and Recent Happenings

Thank you to everyone who shared their thoughts on my recent post - Hardwood in the Kitchen...Yay or Nay?  You were all so helpful and brought up many good points.  I really appreciate all of your comments and great advice!

And what was my decision, you ask?  Well, we have decided to go ahead and install the hardwood in the kitchen!  Yay!  One decision down, a million to go...

I think my biggest hesitation was the fear of the mess and smell involved with the sanding, staining and finishing the floors.  Sure, I still have that fear but we are planning to stay with relatives during that week (or two).  I had to decide what I really wanted in the long run.  I think I can deal with a couple weeks of inconvenience to get the look I want.  I know pre-finished floors were another option but our contractor steered us away from those.  He believes the finished on site floors work out better in the kitchen with spills.  He also thinks they don't fade as much as the pre-finished ones do...which I totally get after dealing with the fading of my existing floors.

Take a look under my dining room rug.  It's hard to tell from this picture but the faded part of the floor isn't even a color anymore.  Not pretty.

I also decided on hardwood floors instead of tile in the kitchen because our new cabinets will be white.  I love the look of wood floors with white cabinets.  I have always wanted a white kitchen and if you follow me on Pinterest, you probably noticed that I have pinned practically every white kitchen that exists to my kitchen board.  Sorry about that by the way...I am sure if you follow me you are getting tired of all these kitchen pictures popping up in your feed!  I just hope I don't regret having a white kitchen with two boys and a not-so-neat-when-he-cooks-husband!  I decided to at least go with a stained wood island though.  Maybe that will help...

Now I just have to decide on the range or cook top size so I can get my cabinets ordered!  I can't believe I am agonizing over every decision.  You would think after 2 years of talking about renovating my kitchen, I would know exactly what I want!  Mid-life crisis...

With all these decisions to make, I have been dealing with two sick kids.  My older son had a stomach virus last week and my younger son has a fever now.  He stayed home from school yesterday and today.  Good thing tomorrow is Saturday!  My poor babies.  I just hate it when they are sick!

At least the beginning of January was enjoyable.  On January 2nd, my husband took me into New York to see a Broadway show called "It's Only A Play" starring - Matthew Broderick, Nathan Lane, Stockard Channing, Megan Mullally, F. Murray Abraham, Rupert Grint and Micah Stock.

It was one of the best shows I have seen in a long time.  Amazing cast...I mean seriously, how could you go wrong with that ensemble?  We were lucky to see Nathan Lane just two days before his last performance in that show.  He will now be starring in "The Iceman Cometh" which starts in February.  Busy guy - and SO talented!  I need to put that show on my list.

Then the second weekend in January we headed up to Vermont for another 3 day weekend.  It was ridiculously cold.  The four of us skied that Friday but my 8 year old declared that he would not be skiing on Saturday due to the freezing temperatures.  I didn't blame him.  In fact, I was relieved that he didn't want to because that meant I got to relax all day in the warm townhouse.  My husband and my 11 year old ski bum ventured out for a few hours in the 10 degree weather.  They had the best time together so it worked out for everyone!

We left Vermont early that Sunday so we could have our families over to celebrate my 11 year old's birthday that evening.  Nothing like trying to squeeze a few activities into one day!  I spent part of the car ride home trying to figure out how I would pull off cooking dinner for 12 people and then decided to call a local Italian restaurant and order a few trays of pasta and chicken dishes.  I whipped up a salad and voila - dinner was served!

Last Sunday, both boys had their piano recitals.  I am so proud of both of them.  It was my 8 year old's first "real" recital.  Last year he took a group keyboard class and their recitals were just the small class and the parents.  This was a bigger deal with a bigger audience.  I know he was nervous beforehand but he didn't show it during his performance.  He marched right up there and very clearly stated his name and the pieces he would be playing.  Afterwards when I told him how well he did, he gave credit to his brother for teaching him what to do.  So precious.  I guess they don't fight all the time...

And now like I said, I am home with my sick 8 year old.  He keeps coughing so I am hoping this doesn't turn into bronchitis or something. it summer yet?

What have you been up to lately?

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January 13, 2015


As exhausted as I was Sunday night, I couldn't miss the Golden Globes!  And I couldn't have been more thrilled to witness the movie, "Boyhood"winning the Best Drama - Motion Picture!   As I am sure you heard, it also won for Best Director - Richard Linklater and Best Supporting Actress - Patricia Arquette!

A while back, I mentioned how I really wanted to see this movie.  Having been a long time fan of Linklater's trilogy - "Before Sunrise", "Before Sunset" and "Before Midnight",  I had a feeling this film would be something special.  As a mom of two boys, I was looking forward to watching the changes and experiences a boy goes through growing up.

So, a few days after Christmas, I talked my husband into renting the movie off the DVR.  He admitted it wouldn't have been something he would have chosen to watch, but he agreed to sit through it with me.  I think he was at least amused by the idea of a movie that took 12 years to make.  Well, I am happy to report that we both thoroughly enjoyed the movie and it sparked conversation for some time afterwards.

"Boyhood" is the story that follows the life of Mason, (Ellar Coltrane), a 6 year old boy and his family.  His divorced parents are brilliantly played by Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke and he has an older sister, Samantha, (played by Lorelei Linklater).  The story simply follows their lives over a 12 year period.  It's an independent, low budget movie that doesn't follow a typical "formula" to make it work.  The movie focuses on the characters, life experiences, relationships...moments.

Part of the appeal of Boyhood is the ability to see our own lives in the characters.  We'd probably all take something different away from the movie.  Moments.  It's the moments that we remember.  In one scene, the dad was dropping off  Mason and his sister with their mom.  The two children ran over to the window to witness their parents talking outside.  One of of them said something like, "Do you think they'll get back together?".  That simple line struck a chord with me because that was my sister and me at that age.  Our parents divorced when we were young and for the longest time we would hang onto the hope that somehow our parents would get back together.  I am sure those are common feelings for children of divorce and if you never experienced divorce in your family, you may take something else away from that scene.  

I think everyone picks up on different parts of the movie.  If you are a parent, you will relate to the school references, the struggles, the sibling arguments.  You will also reflect on your own childhood.  Times may have changed but certain aspects of growing up are universal.

When you watch the movie, make sure you continue past the credits to the interviews at the end.  Even though you will have just watched the children grow up and the adults mature on screen, you will get a sense of nostalgia listening to them talk about the movie.  "Oh look how cute and little they were.." you will say to yourself even though just a couple hours earlier, the movie began with them looking that way.   It will give a you a true sense of how fast time passes. 

I just loved this movie!

Have you seen Boyhood yet?
What about any other of the movies nominated?

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January 3, 2015

Hardwood in the Kitchen...Yay or Nay?

For my first post of 2015,
I am asking for your advice.

You know how I have been babbling on for years about doing a kitchen renovation?  Well, we are finally moving ahead with that but I need to decide on the floors.  I would really love to hear your thoughts on hardwood floors in the kitchen!

As you can see, we have ceramic tile in there now.  The tile extends down the back hall and then up to the front foyer.

The tile breaks up the dining room and living room which both have pre-finished Bruce hardwood floors.  The hardwood floors have faded over the 15 years of living here.

So, one option would be to rip out the ceramic tile in the kitchen, back hall and foyer and replace it with another tile.  Yes, practical with a dog and kids but I am not sure I still want tile.  

Then there is the other option...When our contractor priced out the tile for us, he also priced out replacing the old tile with hardwood AND replacing the hardwood in the dining room, living room plus the family room (where there is currently white carpet that's way past its prime).  

Well it turns out, it doesn't cost that much more to change everything over to hardwood than it would cost to just replace the tile.  He suggests that we go with the finished on site floors instead of the pre-finished boards.  This way the kitchen won't have any grooves in the floor which is a concern of mine because of spills and things that happen in a kitchen with boys and a dog.  Plus, my husband said the only way he would do the hardwood floor option is with the finished on site floors.  That's definitely the look he prefers.  We are thinking a light to medium stained oak floor.

Of course, since I love lists I have to list out the reasons for both options.  Here is what I am thinking....

Reasons to Install Hardwood Floors:

1.  I love the look of hardwood floors in the kitchen.  If you hop over to my Kitchen Pinterest Board, you can see that the majority of my pinned kitchens have hardwood.

2.  I really need to do something about that white carpeting in my family room.  I think having wood floors run from the kitchen right into the family room would be beautiful!

3.  I love the thought of having the same floor in most of the downstairs.  I say "most" because I will keep the tile in the bathroom and laundry room and since my office has a door, I will keep those pre-finished hardwoods.

I love the floor in there but with a golden retriever, I think I really need to go lighter in the rest of the house.  I vacuum enough now!

4.  Wood floors don't have grout!  I hate cleaning grout and even though we get it professionally cleaned every now and then, it still gets dirty looking.

Reasons NOT to Install Hardwoods:

1.  I am not going to lie.  My absolute biggest fear is the fumes.  I know this is short term (I hope) but I can't even handle bringing a new piece of furniture into my house when it smells like stain.  The contractor told us we'd have to move out for about a week while the floors are being finished.  Ugh.  I hope the smell doesn't linger longer than that week!

2.  And speaking of moving on earth will we live in this house with all those rooms being torn up at once?  I know - short term problem again but I am just dreading that!

3.  Rosie.  Yeah I know, plenty of golden retriever owners have hardwood floors but I worry that her nails will end up scratching the floors when she runs down the stairs into the foyer every morning.  Maybe I can buy her some doggie slippers...

4.  My husband is not the neatest cook.  Sure, I am the one who cooks 95 percent of the time but on Christmas and a few other occasions, he will cook something like bacon and get grease and all kind of mess everywhere.  Ceramic tile is pretty easy to clean up, but how will the hardwood be?

So here is where you come in, my blogging buddies, readers and friends with great taste...Please answer as many questions as you like.  I would love to hear your thoughts!

Do you have hardwood floors in your kitchen?  
If so, would you do it again?
Are they pre-finished or finished on site?

Do you have dogs and hardwood floors?  If so, any issues?

If you have installed the finished on-site type of hardwood floors, how long did the fumes last?
Did you use an oil based or water based stain/poly?

Any other thoughts, comments, suggestions?

Thank you so much for your input!

For an UPDATE on my decision, please click - HERE.
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