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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


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 . . .

Give me your Christmas Spirit!

20161210_181609It’s the middle of December and, while everyone is well and healthy, I don’t feel Christmas-y at all. I spent last week in Ann Arbor with Danny. It’s been forever since I’ve had time alone with my oldest “baby.” It’s so fun getting to know him as an adult.

We went (I think) south to meet our friends, Mike and Mary, over the weekend that I was there. It was kind of awesome. They live in a small town and we arrived for their annual Santarchy party. Everyone (except me and Dan) had on Santa, elf, tree or other holiday gear. We were led by a cheerful woman covered in flashing lights from bar to bar. It was like being an extra in a Lifetime holiday movie.

I love a good party. But, honestly, I love a good party in Key West. Michigan is cold, cold, cold. We woke the next morning to more than 6″ of snow. On the way back to Dan’s house, we skidded across two lanes and landed in a ditch. Gah! The tow truck people we called told us that it would be $450 to get us back up to the highway. I think not. We used our coats and a really awesome sweater of mine as traction. Total loss? Maybe $100.  I will be mourning the sweater for years, though.

Now I’m home and gleefully warm. But, I’m not feeling the Christmas thing. Send me your best pick-me-ups, jokes or bad movies.

You can’t always get what you want . . .

20161124_175235We had a great Thanksgiving – lots of people, lots of food, lots of laughter and lots of love. I don’t know that any of us was expecting too much but, it was a great holiday. Sometimes bigger is easier and looser and a lot more fun.

Now, we’re heading into Christmas. Without trying to by cryptic, I am heading to Michigan to see Dan and Christi on the spur of the moment. That leaves my soap pages hanging. Here is a list of what I have or will have before Christmas. If you want to order, just send me a message or leave a comment and I’ll make sure you get what you want! If you are in Central Florida, know that you get a discount if I do not have to mail soaps or deliver soaps to you.  For everyone, there is a discount if you get the soaps “nekkid.” If you want ideas how to wrap them, just ask.

  • It’s close if you want to order soap and are not in Central Florida. Time constraints/personal cicrumstances prevent me from updating all the pages. Below is a list of what I have/will have. If you’d like to order, send me a message and I can bill you via Paypal. I am going to list soaps by fragrance rather than by book (good ideas don’t always translate). If you can’t figure out a scent by my description – just let me know! I will update this list as time goes on.
    100 Acre Wood – 10 bars
    Almond – 11 bars
    Almond Biscotti – 6 bars
    Almond Vanilla – 8 bars
    Apple Mango (Caterpillar) – 4 bars
    Burberry (Outlander) – 9 bars
    Coconut Cream – 8 bars
    Hippy Soap – 8 bars
    Key West – 4 bars
    Lemongrass/Sage – 0 bars (15 available on 12/12)
    Lord of the Figs – 1 bar (15 available on 12/12)
    Oatmeal/Milk/Honey (Half Pint) – 6 bars
    Peppermint Ghost – 15 bars
    Pippi Longstocking (ginger/lime) – 6 bars
    Pink Sugar (Little Women) – 2 bars
    Plain – olive oil and nothing else – 11 bars
    Rosemary Mint (Tara) – 1 bar (15 available on 12/12)
    Santa’s Pipe (Yes, Virginia) – 7 bars
    Suds and Sensibility (Lavender+Linen) 1 bar
    Whitewater – 12 bars
    If there is demand, I can make any soap listed in quantity before 12/12. It’s as easy as an email.

20161206_021710Lest you think my Harry Potter tree is a dream, here is a preview – my sorting hat tree topper! I’m pretty happy with it. (And, yes, there is glitter.  It’s a Christmas tree!!!) More on the tree later.

I see shiny things . . .

76164-a_charlie_brown_thanksgiving-showI give up. I no longer have an attention span. Or a memory. Or a focus. I get things done but my younger self would be appalled at the way I flit from unfinished thing to unfinished thing. The chaos is disturbing. For now, I try to have something I’m working on in every room of the house. That way when I walk into any room and immediately forget why I’m standing there, I see the unfinished project, abandon whatever I had been doing previously and start on that. It’s not pretty but I’m tired of fighting it. Things still get done – no one needs to watch the process.

We’re having Thanksgiving dinner here. I think it will be 26-28 people. I’m kind of excited because we sort of have room for them this year. Last year a bunch of people were only able to get seconds by crawling under their table to escape. This year, I’ve planned emergency food exits for everyone.

20161108_231026I’ve been on a quest for a table for the screened in porch. Our old IKEA table (which served us amazingly well for nearly 12 years) could not withstand a Florida summer’s humidity and I’m pretty sure it’s harboring some kind of mutant mold. Really. After the last rain storm, there was something orange growing where the laminate top had peeled off. Two weeks ago, I stopped by my favorite thrift store – which hasn’t been kind to me lately – and low and behold – an awesome table for $18.18.  It’s times like this that I miss the suburban. I could fit anything into that car. Mike came with the truck and picked it up for me.

20161112_205857The timing is perfect. We now have two very long tables for Thanksgiving and one six foot table. It won’t be pinterest perfect but we’ll all be able to sit together, shouting from end to end and hurling rolls back and forth. I think it will be fun. Like I do, I took an old, beat-up table and made it look older and more beat up. I kind of love it. It’ll be my desk after the holidays and my current desk will return to porch duty. Hopefully, the garbage men will take away the moldy IKEA table.

20161110_184126While waiting for various layers of paint to dry on the table, I ventured into the Harry Potter closet under the stairs in search of my few Thanksgiving decorations. I had written the first chapter of Harry Potter on the little doors inside the closet when we first moved in but I’ve never been happy with them. So I started another project. Bonus? I could see the television from there so I binge-watched The Crown on Netflix while I worked on it. I think it’s fun now.  And, I thought The Crown was really well-done – great casting.

20161120_223744In final preparation for Thanksgiving, Mike made some new benches to go with the “old” new porch table but which will also be perfect for the dinner. Mike built, I painted. I think we can squeeze four small-ish people onto each one. Add the other benches we have and that’s 12-16 people. I think we have enough random chairs to fill in the rest. If not, I have lots of floor cushions.

I’m struggling to keep my focus on this post … so much to write about and so much doesn’t fit in this heading. Thanksgiving. Focus.  I’m kind of excited – we’re doing Charlie Brown themed appetizers (in a grown up way) this year. Still have to figure out how to decorate that table but it should be fun. I think I might just find a yellow sheet and paint a black chevron on it and call it a tablecloth.

Dinner is pretty standard Thanksgiving fare. I’d be happy with stuffing and gravy. I’m pretty excited about the lasagna our old neighbors are bringing – Norman makes the best lasagna ever. And, we’ll be having a mini-birthday party. Norman’s mom, Miss Mary, will be celebrating her 88th birthday with us. Isn’t that awesome? If you have any ideas on a good 88th birthday gift, let me know.

If I’m not back before then, Happy Thanksgiving to all of you.