Where was I again???

Holy cow! I still feel like I just got back from Paris. (Did I mention my recent trip Рyou know, the trip I took across the pond, to PARIS???????) And, yet, almost an entire month has slipped away.  I have so many thoughts and pictures and, as if to spite me, our internet provider seems to be conspiring against me. Our phones work fine Рthe computers? Not so much. I have ginormaous thumbs and doing this stuff without a real keyboard defeats me. Spectrum (aka Bright House) wins this round.

As my life has been marching on since Paris, my plan was to just put up an album of my favorite (and we all know I’m a terrible photographer) pictures and call it good. Most of my blog is for me anyway. (I’m certainly happy if you like sharing my weird life but I love being able to go back over the years and be reminded of crazy stuff that I would never have written down anywhere else.) I’ve put comments on the pictures but if you have questions I’d be happy to tell you the whole story!

27 Years

27th anniversaryThat equals¬†9855 days, 236,520 hours, or 851,472,000 seconds that Mike and I have been married. We’ve certainly filled each and every on of those years! I can’t imagine life with anyone else. Here’s to the next 27.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Green beer for everyone.


Part I: Sooo … did I mention my trip to Paris?

Me and Tony doling out champagne on a tour of the Seine River. I may never drink Champagne again this was so perfect!

So, yeah, I did go to Paris. Got back around 10 o’ clock last night. It’s midnight (US) now and I’m not sure what planet I live on. I wanted wine with breakfast this morning and now I feel like I should be making breakfast. It’ll sort out, I imagine.

Paris? Awesome. After a full day of travel (18 hours total to get home) and then weird today, I’ve been trying to figure out how to blog about my trip. I didn’t bring my lap top and I’m glad. Sometimes, trying to stay in touch takes away from the actual experience. That said, I missed my lap top. ¬†The biggest thing for me about any kind of vacation or break is who I am with. For Paris-week – I was with my mom, Judy (my mom’s cousin and someone who I’ve always thought of as a cool aunt) and Tony (Judy’s husband who has always been my cool uncle).

L-R – Bing, me and Judy. What you can’t see is us shivering! So cold and rainy waiting outside of Notre Dame to see the Westminster Choir. ¬†What you also can’t see is the laughing and snorting we were doing while waiting. So. Much. Fun.

Judy and Tony lived in Paris for several years when I was a little girl. They’ve always gone back for a few weeks at a time and have always encouraged all of us to come visit them. I finally did! (My mom has been to Paris a few times before). We stayed with Judy and Tony in their real Paris apartment in a real neighborhood in Paris. That alone made the visit different than had we stayed in a hotel.

The apartment was in an old (19th century-ish) building. There was a small (incredibly functional and storage-savvy) kitchen, a small bath, a lovely living room with HUGE ceilings featuring gorgeous molding and two small bedrooms. In Paris, you can’t beat it. The owners of the apartment have kept it the same since they bought it 30 years ago. I love it. Old, old floors, awesome high ceilings and all over perfect. Sure, ¬†some HGTV stars could bring it to life but it would lose its charm.

Short story? I loved Paris. I loved the opportunity to stay in an apartment in a real neighborhood. Mostly, though, I loved getting to spend time with Bing, Judy and Tony. I don’t know that I have ever spent time with all three of them without crazy kids.There were ups and downs but mostly there was a lot of laughing going on.

Wine Tasting in the Loire Valley. Judy and Bing.

I think it’s the laughing and just being comfortable that I will remember more than anything we did or saw. Judy and her napkins. Tony trying to herd the three of us through the Metro and beyond without actually stamping his feet. ¬†My mom putting her hood up in the rain only to further drench herself. These are the real things. These are the things most of us don’t photograph (because there is no need). I have so many of these wonderful “snapshots” in my head.

I have so much more to share about our visit. But, to me, the biggest thing about my trip to Paris ended up being the time I spent with people who have known me always and who have been so integral in making me the slightly-off person I am today. At 51, it’s kind of nice to be treated as a 12-year-old again by people who you love and who love you. ¬†I imagine we would have had as much fun going¬†anywhere. BUT, I’m glad we had THAT much fun in Paris. Thank you – Mom (Bing), Judy and Tony ‚̧

20-20-20-4 hours ago . . .

The Ramones . . . they wanna be sedated. I can relate. It’s countdown time until my mom and I leave for Paris. Less than 36 hours!!!!!!

My mom came today to help me figure out what to pack. I had an idea but I had stacked up about twice what I needed. There’s just something about your mom telling you “No.” that makes you focus.

Anyway, I’ve been wanting to blog but we’re back into the big rowing season which means weekends are full as are a few days during the week. I am in awe of the families who are participating in rowing with more than one kid. NO. WAY.

Also, the days of just popping on to spew whatever is in my head are gone. Having grown kids limits what you can talk about and also limits explaining yourself sometimes. But, for now, I’m going to Paris. In less than 36 hours.

Never, ever thought I would get to Paris. And, I worried about being able to get there and get dressed. That’s one advantage to traveling when you’re young – you can get away with wearing almost everything. Over fifty? What you wear will definitely have an impact on how you are treated and how you feel. (At least that’s my impression.) In my online searches for what to wear in Paris in winter, I keep finding cute 20-ish people and cute 65-ish people. I don’t fit into either category. ¬†I also don’t have money.

So, I’m sharing what I’m going to be wearing in Paris – including where I found it and what I paid. What works in Paris is not what I normally wear in Orlando, FL. (That would be overalls and a tank top – sometimes shoes) I had time to do some scouting and searching. I like black, you’ll notice. But, I think what I’m packing would work in any major city. And, if you are willing to spend the time (yes, time = money so do your own math) you can get a great travel wardrobe for next to nothing. I despise having my picture taken but I will get my mom to take a picture everyday so you can see if what I packed works or not.

travel-dayTRAVEL DAYS:
¬†Repeatedly I’ve read that you should wear your bulkiest stuff when you travel. It lightens your suitcase. We’re traveling in winter so I’m okay with that.

I found this Jones New York leather jacket at my favorite thrift store (thanks to Ian’s help) for $16.16. The blue pashima is something I picked up at a thrift store years ago for about $8 – it’s silk and big enough to use as a blanket on the plane. Underneath the jacket is a man’s cashmere turtleneck from Theory that I found for $8. It’s soft, squishy and the cashmere makes it less sloppy than a sweatshirt. Skinny jeans are Levi’s and the Born boots (most comfortable shoes EVER) were both from Goodwill. Total $12.

I will wear this outfit coming and going from Paris. I’ll wear individual parts of the outfit throughout my trip. $44.16 (or $22.08 each way)

awesome-sweater-dressFANCY DAYS: ¬†We are figuring on a pretty casual trip. However, there are a few things that I think might be more comfortable if I’m a little more dressed up. This dress was the find of the century. I had two dresses marked on Ebay and ThredUp (both over $60) when I happened on this one in Goodwill (I was there looking for a frame!). Add some dark red tights from Big Lots and the awesome $6 Born boots? ¬†A necklace or a scarf. It doesn’t get much better. In fact, it’s kind of like looking really good and fooling everyone because you are essentially wearing your pajamas. I think this outfit might turn up a lot in pictures.

¬†obligatory-striped-shirtMUSEE DAYS: ¬†There is sooooo much I want to see in Paris. We have it narrowed down to several museums. I think this will be my uniform. The striped shirt that is apparently de rigeur if you’re in France and these awesome Parker pants I found at Walmart. The pants are seriously amazing – especially at about $15. They run big so try them on. They have tons of prints. The fabric is lightweight, wrinkle resistant and they hold their shape all day. Tossing in the Banana Republic driving loafers for a bit of red. Found these shoes at a now closed consignment shop. I think I paid $18 for them about six years ago. Love, love, love them. I would actually pay full-price for them when these die.

night-outNIGHT OUT: ¬†I picked up a great travel skirt ($2 b/c of half off color) ¬†before my mom and I went to Costa Rica. I didn’t bring the skirt to Costa Rica but hung onto it. It’s a jersey knit and is easy to roll up or down depending on how long you want it. I love skirts and dresses. I think they are so much more comfortable than pants – even yoga pants. For this skirt, I’m thinking of dressing it up for a night out with as crinkly blouse ($3), fun necklace ($7) some ribbed tights ($4) ¬†and my granny boots.

scarf-and-jeansRANDOM DAYS: We have a couple of mornings and afternoons that are not planned. ¬†For those, I have my v-necked cashmere cardigan (again from the men’s department at the thrift store – $11) and a couple of extra t-shirts. I have extra scarves and some black skinny jeans that will work will with any of my shoes.

Now, we wait and see what goes wrong and what I regret. For now, I feel like I’ll look okay without being too young or too old.

Did I mention I’m going to Paris and I can’t believe it and I keep squealing? Pity the cab driver that we get at the airport. He/She’s going to have to absorb all of my excitement and endure me practicing French on him as well. My hope is that he/she will leave thinking, “She was weird but, sheesh, what a great outfit.”

Remember my friends . . . It is better to look good than to feel good. 8) ¬†(I can’t post video on this site – Google Billy Crystal if you need a reminder!)


Hey! Look! Shiny Things!

tony-sketchYes, it’s been over a month since my last post. I’ve been busy-ish. It’s weird now with Andy at the community college. Technically, I’m still a homeschool mom but in reality, my planner is dusty and it’s unlikely a mummified chicken is in my future. ( Was that really 16 years ago?)

January was time for me to regroup and think about what’s next for me. It was also busy with rowing starting up again, Andy turning 17, a visit from my sister and my usual insane list of projects – painted our bedroom, bathroom and closet. This house is giving me major ladder skills.

The good news? It’s no longer January. I still have no real plan – just vague ideas. The biggest thing going on right now is my upcoming trip to PARIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yes. France. Baguettes. Berets. Fromage. Wine. You know, Paris. My mom and I are going to Paris and will be staying with Aunt Judy and Uncle Tony in a totally cute apartment. IN PARIS!¬† Judy and Tony lived in Paris when I was little. They know the city and visit every year or so. The link will take you to their blog that shows snippets of some of their Paris (and beyond) adventures. (The sketch above is Tony’s. It won first place in a recent show. Look at his other work here.)

I’ve been working hard on my French, studying what people who are not total geeks wear when in Paris (no sneakers, lots of black), and trying to not bounce off the walls. I cannot believe I’m going. I’m so not a romantic but since my first French class in seventh grade I have loved all things French. Art, of course, but especially books. The Little Prince, Madame Bovary, Les Miserables (the musical is great but the book will make you sob) and even A Tale of Two Cities.

Since I’ll be there with veterans of the city, I’m counting on them as far as things that must be seen. I’d be happy wandering the streets and trying to eavesdrop of people. I don’t care that much what we do – I just want to be there. (Quick break while I run around the house squealing again.) Of course, if you have been there and have suggestions, I’d love to hear them!

Hope everything in your world is going well. Stay tuned for more frantic “I can’t believe I’m going!!!!” posts.

Hello 2017

hp-xmas-tree-2016Happy 2017!!!!!

Squeezing in a few last pictures of my beloved Harry Potter Christmas tree. The first picture is one my friend, Vanessa, took on New Year’s Eve. I think it’s the best one so far. If you click on the picture, you can zoom in for more details.

The second picture is the completed Marauder’s Map tree skirt. I finish20170102_042959ed it last night knowing that if I packed it away half-done, it would never get done. I’m pleased. It’s not terribly authentic or accurate but it is fun.




We had a nice, quiet Christmas this year. It is a shame that Dan and Christi had to stay in Michigan – they were missed. My dad was also missed – another first without him and it was hard, particularly for my mom. Still we had a nice holiday and a most excellent Christmas dinner – at one table! ¬†Crazy. (I have a pic of Andy too but it won’t load. I’ll edit later.)

New Year’s Eve was equally quiet. We dragged a few friends from our old neighborhood over here and played a bunch of board games and ate a lot of snacks. Vanessa’s son, Preston, and his buddy, Taylor, played video games for a short time and ended up joining in on the board games. When they got sick of the grown ups, they moved into the Harry Potter closet. (I keep our Christmas stuff in there so it was empty.) I got such a kick out of listening to them laugh and whisper and plan¬†their nest for the night. ¬†I didn’t realize how much I missed 11-12 year old boys. They are a hoot.

It might be a first for us. Two holidays with no police, no crowds and very little chaos. Truth be told, after all of these years, I kind of miss the chaos. But . . . not nearly as much as I thought I would.

I hope your year is off to a great beginning. Show us something great 2017!


I know, I know more Harry Potter tree . . . sue me, I don’t have any cute little kids running around saying fun things anymore. This will have to do for now.

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Merry, merry, merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from me to all of you. I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to the start of a new year as well. ¬†Cheers to 2017!

I jinxed myself a bit earlier when I told my sister I was totally ready for Christmas. I’m not. I’m going to be scrambling tomorrow. Busy is good. Details tend to work themselves out, right?

But, I am vain. And, I’m thrilled with my half-done Marauder’s Map tree skirt. So, I stopped scrambling for 10 minutes to share it. ¬†I’ll finish the rest over 2017. ¬†Along with about 100 other ideas for the giant Harry Potter tree.

I hope to be back before the new year but, no promises. Stay warm, dry, cool or whatever your world demands.  Sending low-stress vibes to everyone. Remember this time of year is supposed to be fun. (I mostly typed that as a reminder to myself.)

Love, hugs and best wishes.


The plan is never the plan . . .

I’m still in Florida. As the wise Stephen King said (in Duma Key) “God punishes us for what we cannot imagine.” As I’m sure you’ve gathered things here are weird and I can’t provide details (not my story – I’m a bit player). Still, prayers all around would be welcomed by all of us. Honestly, I shudder when I recall I used to think having toddlers was hard. Send me your toddlers! (Actually, toddlers ARE hard. I just thought that once they were actual people it would get easier. Yeah, yeah. Shut up, Stephen King.)

So, I am here and warm. ¬†Here are more pictures of my Harry Potter tree. What a wonderful diversion this monstrosity has been. A little later I’m going to work on the Maurader’s Map tree skirt. ¬†Because I took them, the pictures are not great. Ian and Tim will both be here next week and I’m sure they can get better pictures. ¬†In the meantime, I’d like to thank the sites that gave me inspiration and good instructions: ¬†Over the Moon, Practically Functional (for the Sorting Hat) and EpBot. ¬†I have learned so much from people who take the time to explain what they’re good at (and even take pictures!). ¬†I’m already thinking about what I want to add next year.

If you click on the picture it will tell you what you’re seeing. Or you can use your imagination! It’s all good.

From the top of the stairs.

A Harry Potter Preview

20161206_021710There are just times when the planets do not align and there is no order. It appears that such is my life right now. I’m heading back to Michigan. In my day and a half (it was two days but I slept most of one of them), I managed to fill in the Harry Potter tree. Andy and his girl that is a friend got it started and made it festive. ¬†Here is a shot before I totally finished. ¬†When I get home, I’ll take more detailed pictures for the Potter-crazy folks. ¬†I cannot even believe this thing is in my house. Join me at the cool kids table. (Or the nerd table) Until better pictures . . .