Soul Sisters Coffee Break

Cupcakes? Check.
Coffee? Check.
Cool home decor consignment shop? Check!

The Soul Sisters took over a nearby town last week to catch up, shop, and refill our estrogen reserves. The place we chose, The Sweethouse Bakery, was the cutest little bakery ever! Look at the counter filled with goodies - even the little sitting area was decorated with cupcakes decor!

We chatted about the nitty gritty details of my Paris trip and laughed. We ate cinnamon cake and got our caffeine high then posed for a S.S. pic:

Afterward, we walked across the street to the Monkey's Trunk to browse. This brand new shop features home decor consignment, and it was love at first sight!

We ooh'd and ahh'd our way through the shop, talked loudly about Monkey Balls, planned our next crafting get-together, then hugged goodbye.

I'm feelin' girlie again. A great break with my sistas...



Tutorial Tuesday - Alphabet Photography Project

ABC's, originally uploaded by hopestudios1.

The boys and I began this project as soon as school let out in June. We spent all summer collecting photos of letters to spell significant words, and I finished up locating some missing letters in Paris this month. It was a great side project to work on while exploring, vacationing, or Letterboxing.

I noticed a company selling this sort of thing when they were featured in Better Homes and Gardens a few years ago and this project has been on the back burner ever since. Imagine my surprise, when I noticed the same project featured in Family Fun magazine this month! How exciting!

We combined some of our letters to create a "Family" plaque to remind us of our great summer. Check it out:

Had I ordered this combination from AlphabetLetters.com, it would have cost me $120, but here is the breakdown for our project;

Frame- $19.99 (Walmart)
Photos- $1.40 (Ritz)
Fun and Memories- Priceless

You could make your own ABC Art, and for some inspiration, here are some other words we spelled:

FAITH, originally uploaded by hopestudios1.

HOPE, originally uploaded by hopestudios1.

LOVE, originally uploaded by hopestudios1.

Head on over to A Soft Place to Land and Shades of Pink by clicking below. You will find many more inspiring projects~

Shades of Pink

I have no idea what this big announcement is, but here is something my blogger friend Cheri asked me to post about something happening on Oct. 1st:

***Cheri, at Its So Very Cheri wants to let you in on a big, no huge, maybe GIANORMOUS is big enough, announcement. Be sure to MARK THIS DATE- Oct 1. All I know, is that you need to head over to Its So Very Cheri on Oct 1 so you don’t miss out on this big event. She’s never done anything this big. So grab the button and place it on your side bar so you don’t forget, plus your friends will be glad you let them in on it too.***

So, head on over, I think there are clues!

My Paris Wrap Up

Okay, you all know I love this animoto tool and I used it again to give you a wrap up of my favorite photos and try to convey a feeling when you view them. Ready?

I used some of these photos for tomorrow's Tutorial Tuesday, so come on back to see what I came up with.



Sunday Funny

Family Tree of Vincent Van Gogh

His dizzy aunt ----------------------------------------------- Verti Gogh
The brother who ate prunes------------------------------- Gotta Gogh
The brother who worked at a convenience store ------ Stop N Gogh
The grandfather from Yugoslavia ----------------------------- U Gogh
His magician uncle -------------------------------- Where-diddy Gogh
His Mexican cousin ---------------------------------------- A Mee Gogh
The Mexican cousin's American half-brother ------------ Gring Gogh
The nephew who drove a stage coach --------------- Wells-far Gogh
The constipated uncle ------------------------------------- Can't Gogh
The ballroom dancing aunt -------------------------------- Tang Gogh
The bird lover uncle ------------------------------------- Flamin Gogh
The fruit loving cousin -------------------------------------- Man Gogh
An aunt who taught positive thinking ------------------ Way-to-Gogh
The little bouncy nephew ----------------------------------- Poe Gogh
A sister who loved disco -------------------------------------- Go Gogh
And his niece who travels the country in an RV --- Winnie Bay Gogh

I saw you smiling ---- there ya Gogh!



We Interrupt this Paris Daydream for an Important News Brief:

(Keep scrolling, for some reason it is at the very end after the linkwithin widget)

My Eiffel Tower Experience

I know it's a cheesy French cliche, but I couldn't wait to see the Eiffel Tower! We checked into our hotel and I stepped out onto the balcony and saw her across the city calling to me...

The next day we saw her from our boat tour, closer but still far away:

I had to wait a whole day, but I finally went to visit. Isn't she lovely?

We attended a tour of the Tower with our group, and the first thing I noticed were the military guards at the base with machine guns. A little creepy...

The Tower's engineer (did you know she is managed by a private company?) spoke to us about the construction and the tons of paint that will be removed this year (once they figure out how to remove it). He told us about the elevator system, then took us down to "the beast" to show us the hydraulics.

Here they are, but that guy was so dreamy (a cross between George Clooney and Antonio Banderis...sigh), none of the women can remember a thing he said about this system. I just know, it runs using water and is lubricated using recycled french fry grease! (as the women ascended the stairs the chatter was all: "did you see the way his eyes crinkled when he laughed? Oh, his hair is just perfect! I wonder what his wife looks like, he was wearing a wedding ring you know. I bet she's either beautiful or rich!" Yeah, we're pathetic.)

After all of that elevator talk, we jumped in to try it out. Aaaallll the way to the top. From here, we could see Paris laid out before us:

Apparently, I lost my mind and forgot to get a proper picture of her lit but I did take these looking up at her as we left:

Okay, next I will show you some of my favorite photos from my trip to wrap up. So, I'll meet you here Monday. Don't be late!



Cemetery Hoppin'

I know it sounds strange, but I love to visit cemeteries when I'm away from home. I think they are so peaceful and I always end up getting some great photos there. I knew I wanted to use some of the photos for my walls so off we went.

We originally chose this cemetery because I wanted to tour the catacombs, but after a mix-up on the Metro, we missed the last tour by 20 minutes. Bummer. Here is a visit to a lovely French cemetery in Mont Parnasse in Paris.

Later that same day, we stopped at a sidewalk cafe to pass the time as the French do - people watching!

We sat down with our beer (please, no more wine!):

and soon we were entertained by this fellow:

Oh, attention all street performers! If you play me music I will pay you! I'm a sucker for music and drop money in every guitar case I see. Now, are you looking pathetic and shaking a cup? Not so much. Take a look at some of the other performers we encountered:

Do you want to go to the Eiffel Tower tomorrow? Okay, meet me back here...



Paris - Oh La La!

What a trip of a lifetime! It started out rocky as Paris seemed to have handed me a PMS/Jet Lag/Guilt martini as I got off the plane, (which resulted in an eventual meltdown with tears, pounding on the bed, and swearing) but we got over the hump and went on to have a wonderful trip.

This was a work trip for my husband, who is in the hospitality field, so our group was able to do many fun and unusual things together. We ventured "down to the beast" (that is how they referred to the area under the Eiffel Tower) to see the hydraulic elevator system that brings visitors to the viewing platforms.

We toured the home and factory of Louis Vuitton. We met the proprietress and the artists working in a "factory" that was more like a well lighted studio. We learned about their philosophy of 35 hour work weeks, no night shifts, friendly and respectful work environments. It was so refreshing and made you think about many work environments here.

We toured the home and cellars of Moet Chandon Champagne. We wandered around in the dark tunnels below and surfaced to dine on lobster and champagne in the owner's dining rooms.

We were entertained by the French cabaret Lido. The beautiful girls prancing around topless left most of the American women squirming and the men drooling.

We toured the city on a bus that took us past all the cities highlights and lowlights, such as the Arc de Triumph, Princess Diana's tunnel, and "the mistake" little New York (a 1970's stab at updating the city).

And finally, we had a day to ourselves to get lost in the beautiful city. I chose the artist's quarter Mont Martre and the cemeteries of Mont Parnesse. We ate simple food in sidewalk cafes, stopped for a drink while were serenaded by a local musician, bought some art for our home in a cute little gallery, and wandered the streets until dark.

We did kiss under the Eiffel Tower and hold hands through Notre Dame, we ate fabulous French food and drank wonderful French champagne. We wore our cool French clothing and tried to speak the beautiful French language... It was a wonderful trip and I'm so lucky to have gone. I will remember this through my pictures during the gray Pittsburgh winter.

I have the remaining Paris posts arranged by theme, so tomorrow we will tour the cemeteries. Believe me, it is so beautiful!



Tutorial Tuesday - How to Wear a Scarf

Wow...where were we? Oh yes, my trip to Paris. I wanted to share the single best fashion tip I picked up while there - wear a scarf...always wear a scarf.

This bit of fabric can mean the difference between looking a mess (or at the very least blah) and looking polished and put together. Really, there is very little effort involved.

I had heard stories of the elusive and confusing scarf before I left and scoured the Internet to learn how to tie this thing, but found very few articles. So, I tied it best I could and paid attention while I was there...all for you.

So, here is what I learned about How To Wear A Scarf:

A small square tied once around your neck is the quintessential "french chic" scarf...um, except I only saw the flight attendants and women in suits wearing a scarf this way. But it's still cute:

Better yet, most ladies tied a small scarf onto their purse strap to bring some color into their outfits. (Warning: I did this and lost a scarf in the cemetery as it must have slipped off my purse. Darn.)

I saw a woman in a cafe wearing a filmy scarf like this and she looked so elegant. It was wound once around her neck, then one end was fed under the piece around her neck and pulled out to hang over while the other end hung straight down. It was lovely:

A funky woman pulling a suitcase onto the Metro gave me a variation of this. She wound it around her neck once, then tied the two ends in a low knot. Cool. No really, it was hot down there to have all that fabric around your neck:

This is the most simple and straight forward, yet equally lovely. Fold your scarf in half and place around your neck. Feed the loose end into the loop the fold forms and pull. You can wear this as tight or as loose as you'd like. This works well with a long scarf.

This is a little more fun and funky. It actually a silk waist belt I got years ago that had no buckle. This is Friday night out for sure. Just wind a slim scarf around your neck once and let the ends hang free while you sip champagne and boogie the night away:

On a cooler day, they used a fuller scarf. Wind it around your neck once then begin to make a loose knot with the ends...just don't pull the second end all the way through. You get a little bump that sticks up in a cool way and short ends hang down:

This same scarf on a warmer day when you want your hot neck exposed (like in the metro!). Just wind it around your neck once from front to back, bring the loose ends back to the front then pull the part around your neck down into a cowl. Now, tie the very bottom of the loose ends:

Finally, wind a linen scarf around your neck twice and knot loosely. Leave one loose end in front and fling the other over your shoulder in the back:

Okay, that is all. Oh, wait...you love the colorful orange and red scarf? You want to know where I got it? Target. But after my trip, I prefer to call it Tar-jay. Yep, $19.00 and a LOT of snobby rich people commented on it. Go get one, you won't be sorry!


Warning: Stolen Blog Content

It has come to my attention that there is a "design" blog out there who has stolen HUGE chunks of my content to post since last month. Since you seem to copy and paste everything I write to your own blog with no credit to me or the others you've stolen from, this message should be posted there shortly as notice that I am aware of your actions. Remove my photos and content and those of other bloggers immediately or legal action will follow.

I refuse to mention this person's blog name to avoid giving him traffic, but he is from India and using my blog content and many others' and passing it off as his own to draw traffic and support advertising.

I am very upset that photos of my children and my art are being used to draw income for him and legal action has been taken with his web host and a complaint has been filed with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act website.

If you are worried about your own blog content, comment here and I will pass along the information for you to check this offending site. Thank you to Amanda from SerenityNow4Amanda for bringing this to my attention.

Oh, I'm home from Paris and exhausted. I've had indigestion for about a week and need a proper shower in the worst way...but I'm home and full of posts for the next week! See you tomorrow!

UPDATE: The offending blog has been taken off line!! Whoo hoo for the DMCA!!!



Sunday Funny

A Mormon was seated next to an Irishman on a flight from London.
After the plane was airborne, drink orders were taken. The
Irishman asked for a whiskey, which was promptly brought and placed before him.

The flight attendant then asked the Mormon if he would like a drink.
He replied in disgust, "I'd rather be savagely raped by a dozen whores
than let liquor touch my lips."

The Irishman then handed his drink back to the attendant and
said, "Me, too, I didn't know we had a choice."


Feedback Friday - Parking Lot Etiquette

Okay, after nearly getting into an accident AGAIN at Target this week, I decided to bring up this subject. Maybe I'm wrong and getting worked up over nothing...

Here's the deal: Almost any time I'm in a large parking lot, and I'm attempting to back out of my parking space, a car who is "just passing through" comes flying past me causing me to slam on my brakes.

Sometimes they are way at the other end as I begin my back-up, sometimes they actually turn into my aisle after I've begun backing up. But, clearly, each time, I've begun to back up FIRST before their approach.

What is your understanding of parking lot etiquette? Who has the right of way in this situation? It seems no one ever yields to the car in reverse unless they are waiting for that parking spot.

Tell me people, do cars in a parking lot yield according to who started first or do cars backing up always yield to cars driving past? For my sanity, I must know!!!



45 Lessons

1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.
2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.
3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
4. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and parents will. Stay in touch.
5. Pay off your credit cards every month.
6. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.
8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.
9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.
10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.
12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.
13. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.
15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God never blinks.
16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
17. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.
18. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.
19. It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else
20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.
21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.
22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.
23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.
24. The most important sex organ is the brain.
25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.
26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words 'In five years, will this matter?'
27. Always choose life.
28. Forgive everyone everything.
29. What other people think of you is none of your business.
30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.
31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
32. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
33. Believe in miracles.
34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.
35. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
36. Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young
37. Your children get only one childhood.
38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.
41. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
42. The best is yet to come.
43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
44. Yield.
45. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift.

Life Lessons, by Regina Brett (Cleveland, Ohio)

This column was brought to my attention this week and these lessons rang true for me, as well. I've highlighted the lessons I feel particularly strong about. What is your favorite?



Tutorial Tuesday

Well, I'm away from my computer for the week, and it just seemed fitting to rerun one of my most popular tutorials for you on this Linky Party day as I sip cafe au lait in some sidewalk cafe. So, if you haven't seen my Sex in the City Shoe Tutorial you'll need to hop on over there now.

Okay, with no further ado, I'm going to leave you to entertain each other on this Tutorial Tuesday with your own links. I'm not picky about what you're teaching us today - a recipe, a craft, a hairstyle, what-ev's. It's all good. But don't let my tutorial hungry readers down, they need some 'tutes people!


Need a Personal Shopper?

You know that friend or blog buddy who always seems to come home from a weekend of garage saling with a butt load of awesome finds? The one who seems to know just what to do with that monkey bowl or chipped picture frame she saw in a pile at GoodWill? The one you always ask for tips before you go out thrifting (and return with a sad looking vase)?

I have a friend like that. Every time I look at her weekend haul I'm like "Dude! I never find stuff like that!"

Well, guess what? My friend is now your friend. She is going to shop for you, pick out the most awesome vintage stuff and let you take advantage of her good fortune and keen eye for decorating. You guessed it, it's Kimba from A Soft Place to Land . She has stocked her Etsy shop with the best of her vintage finds and is offering them up to you over at KimbaMade.

Want to see some of my faves?

This cool, vintage scale. You'd pay big bucks for this at Restoration Hardware:

This beautiful, delicate milk glass bowl screams Anthropologie:

And, drum roll please...

Little Birdie Candle Holder! I love love love this! I have 25 places in mind for this! I'm going to dream about this tonight!

Are you dying to go see what Kimba has found for you? Okay, hurry up now, run on over to KimbaMade before that other lady buys your cool white ceramic soup tureen!

**Okay tomorrow (um tonight at 10 pm EST, shhhh) is my Tutorial Tuesday Linky Party! Come link up your tutorials so my Tuesday readers have someplace to go !**


Sunday Funny

Well, I'm off to Paris today and though I'm headed to the land of refinement and grace, I'll take with me this last little nugget:

Elvis and Michael Jackson Alive in West Virginia!!! (click the photo to see the detail)


New Moon Trailer

Okay, as much as I hated breaking down and seeing Twilight the movie (it totally broke the spell I was under from the book) I'm on the train and can't get off. I'm actually looking forward to New Moon, because it's the only thing to keep this Twilight love affair alive. Am I alone?

Check out the latest trailer:



Feedback Friday - Strangers Disciplining Your Children

If you know me at all, you know about my multiple personality disorder. I call her "Mama Bear" and, girl, she can mess you UP! I find myself speaking up and doing things in situations I would have never imagined in defense of my boys. I'm fair, strict, and discipline them when necessary...just don't YOU do it for me. It's just one of those things that sets off my switch (you know, the one that rhymes with 'witch'?).

Well, I got this article from Mom Logic yesterday, and I knew it was a Feedback Friday post in the making: (excerpt from Mom Logic)

"This happened to a Georgia mom on Monday. Sonya Mathews' daughter, Paige, was crying in the store when 61-year-old Roger Stephens told Mathews that if she didn't make her kid stop crying, he would. When little Paige continued to cry, he walked up to her and slapped her across the face several times. After he did it, he told Mathews, "See, I told you I would shut her up."

Mathews screamed at him and called for security. Another shopper stopped him. He was arrested and charged with cruelty to a child, a felony, and is being held without bail. Paige suffered no injuries, except for some redness in the face."

Now, something on a smaller scale happened to me once in a restaurant while we were vacationing at the beach about 5 years ago. We were having a wonderful night, The Big Guy and I were enjoying a drink and talking and the kids were playing and giggling quietly. They were playing a game where they were blowing on each other with a straw (I don't know, I guess it seemed fun). I can remember sitting there thinking, this is a great night.

Well, out of nowhere a lady at a neighboring table approached my kids and sternly scolded them for playing this game "Put that straw down! You could poke someone's eye out!" Then she walked away and returned to her table.

Have you ever heard someone say they "saw red"? Well, I became so angry at this lady for butting in that I saw black! I was so enraged I began to cry. Man, I hate that. The Big Guy kept trying to talk me down and then he made the fatal mistake of taking the boys to the bathroom.

I got up and spoke to the woman (through tears) and tried to make the general point that: if you want to say something to my kids, you gotta go through me first. (there were lots of "how dare you"s and "where do you get off"s amid sniffles and snorts). I'm pretty sure I made my point. But, in the end, it ruined my entire night.

Have you ever experienced this? Did you react as strongly? Is there a situation where you would ever discipline someone else's child while they were present (unless they were hurting your kid)? What on earth would you have done to the man in Walmart? (I would have put a beat down on that dude. They would have had to tear me off from him...just sayin'). Come on, let me have it with some Feedback!

**Don't forget my Tutorial Linky Party next Tuesday! I'm calling on all my creative readers to help me out during my vaca by entertaining my readers with some cool tutorials. Don't let me down!**

Oh! And check out this opportunity to share where you were on September 11, 2001, this mom has it together and this should have been my Feedback Friday post for today. Go to Where Were You on 9/11? to post your response..


DIY Thursday : Laundry Room Overhaul

Over the years, my laundry room has served as my emergency catch-all. You know, someone suddenly drops by and you need a spot to shove things and shut the door. Unfortunately, it doesn't always get cleaned up as often as I'd like (or never, to be honest).

Since the munchkins are back in school and I had some free time and a creative itch, I decided to tackle this mess:

I pulled out all of the kids' craft supplies to relocate them in the basement since there isn't much time for crafts these days. Do you think I might have an issue with purchasing and/or holding onto craft supplies?

This is the nice, clean, boring laundry room after I finished cleaning

Amid the piles of construction paper, glue, feathers, and play doh, I came across a foam brush set similar to this. I think we all have bits and pieces of a set like this lying around.

Something popped into my head about Just a Girl's bathroom bubble-ish looking wall art so I pulled out the paint.

I decided I wanted one colorful, kid art friendly zone in my home where we can display some of the cooler projects they bring home from school.

I used rubber foot from a shelf to create an open bubble to mix with the solid bubbles for interest. I think you can find them in the aisle with PVC pipe at Lowe's. Try to choose a color theme, mine was blue, then sprinkle in other colors randomly like the red and purple and orange. Overlap some bubbles and make little bubble clusters. This really was fun and a quick coat of paint is all that's required when you get sick of it.

So, let's not take decorating so seriously all the time. Do you have a spot where you can just let loose and make it fun? The boys feel like they now have their own kid-friendly art gallery!


Your Skin Fix, December Edition