December 4, 2016: Hola everyone! Winter has arrived in Milwaukee and there are snow flurries today. Despite several hard freezes remarkably my "spikes" in two of my patio planters have absolutely refused to die. The rosemary and thyme plants I nursed inside the house through last winter spent the summer in their pot outside next to the side stoop off the driveway, where they get plenty of sunshine all day long. I transplanted them into a cozy sheltered spot right next to the stoop in October and they are still green and growing, too! With the delay in getting the drywall patching done in the relatively minor "reconstruction" work I had done in my kitchen, I am way behind my time in getting the house decorated. But yesterday I got my wreath decked out with extra lights and dressed the front door of the house, and my battery-operated traditional candles were put up on the window sills all around the house Friday evening. It becomes a ritual to go around at dusk and turn the tops to the right to turn the candles "on" and at bedtime to go around and turn the tops to the left to turn the candles "off." Today I put some "glittery" throw pillow covers purchased new last month from H&M on three of my sofa pillows to glam things up a bit in the living room and add some sparkle. Later on, after I sufficiently fuel myself up with wine and snacks and probably to distract myself while I listen to the Packers game on the radio, I will huff and puff and pull my artificial tree up from storage in the basement. I will decorate it simply this year. Every year I say that, and every year I end up throwing just about everything except the kitchen sink on the tree. I am very proud of myself this year, though. I did not buy a single new ornament or Christmas doo-dad for the house (throw pillow covers don't count!!!) Happy Holidays to all, with hope and fervent prayers for 2017. I've a feeling we're all going to need a lot of help from Goddess in the coming year. Jan

Sunday, September 30, 2012

A Beautiful Bedroom: The Look for Less!

This is going to be a very long post!  I suggest getting a beverage of your choice, settle in to your chair and I hope you enjoy it!  This post I am finishing up the Beautiful Bedroom from Traditional Home.  I will be covering the mirror, the dresser, and the side chair (presumably used for the secretary).

Continuing with fitting out a less expensive facsimile of the Inspiration bedroom from The Traditional Home online photo - here it is again:


I am now showing my choices for the mirror and dresser.

The Mirror:

You can pay a TON of money for them, and they get more expensive quickly once they reach a certain size and are not just "plain" silvered plate glass.  You can see that the mirror in the Inspiration photo has some kind of either decorative finish around the edges or is in some kind of decorative frame.  It is also a very large mirror!  Cha ching!  Perhaps a creative person could go down to the local home improvement center and buy a plain plate glass mirror and then add some kind of edging or framing around it to jazz it up to get a similar look to the Inspiration photo - but I'm not that person!

Soooo, I hunted around for a suitably sized mirror at a reasonable prize.  I am guessing that the mirror in the Inspiration photo is 36 x 48.  Some of my selections are not as large.  Personally, unless it's a mirror that I'm going to use to put on my make-up, I have a thing about paying too much for a purely decorative mirror!  To me, the cheaper the better.  Obviously this bedroom's mirror is not going to be used to put on one's make-up, so I want it to be as inexpensive as possible, while still going for overall good looks:

I found the Marquee Mirror in Parma Silver at buy.com, for $217.03 (today only?), regularly priced at $274.40.  It is 30 x 42:
A  good deal, right?  But check out the Songe Mirror from Ikea!  Not available online, unfortunately, so you have to hunt for it at a store near you.  For $80 and an impressive 36 x 51 size, I'll go hunting with a friend who has a car!



The Dresser:

I knew I was going to have problems finding a dresser that was close to the Inspiration photo.  I am pretty sure it is an antique or made to order piece and very expensive.  It looks to have a distressed white or possibly white with silver finish, and has the embellishments on the drawer fronts, the beautifully cut legs and what might be a marble top; I'm not sure what kind of pulls those are.  Assuming a 36 x 48 mirror is centered over it, there appears to be perhaps 3-5 inches left over at each end, so I'm figuring that the length of the Inspiration photo dresser is about 42 to 44 inches.  It also appears to have three long drawers (not six short drawers), each drawer having two pulls.

Again, ideally, this would be the type of dresser that one would go hunting for in vintage furniture stores and thrift markets, hoping to score a deal and possibly refinish with chalk paint and distress and wax.  Switch out the pulls, add some glue-on wood embellishments to the drawer fronts and, voila!  After a lot of work, you would have your very own reasonable facsimile.  But I'm shopping for new stuff only -- just easier that way for blogging!  What I aimed for was not an exact replication but something that has the same "spirit" as the Inspiration dresser (a beautifully proportioned shape, a beautiful finish, suitably embellished drawer fronts, the right size, with three drawers and two pulls per drawer). 

So, these are the candidates I came up with.  I warn you - the prices are shocking.  Well, to me the prices are shocking!  So, I figured, go as inexpensive as possible on the bed, love seat, chair and mirror and splurge on the case goods:  secretary and dresser. 

First up is this absolutely gorgeous Pulaski dresser, Versailles (love the name), found at Wayfair:




Yes, it's black distressed finish and has curvy cabriole feet and a very feminine curved skirt across the bottom.  Isn't she beautiful!  Even though the color is the exact opposite of the Inspiration dresser, I chose Versailles because (1) it has three drawers (2) each drawer has two pulls (3) each drawer has embellishments on it and (4) I just love those curves and decorative embellishments!  I love everything about this dresser.  This dresser's list price is $1,325; at Wayfair it's available for $950 and includes free shipping. Interestingly enough, when I first emailed myself the link to this dresser, it was listed for under $900 and included free shipping.  So -- one must spring forth when opportunity arises :)   Dimensions:  36" H x 48" W x 18" D. 

Actually, I think this dresser would be a very good fit if, for instance, one chose the Ballard Designs secretary/hutch in a distressed black finish, and either love seat would work just fine with this finish because both love seats have espresso-finished wood legs and/or trim. 

Going in a somewhat different direction, but still looking for embellished drawer front accent dressers, I found this Hooker Furniture dresser at Wayfair:




Okay, okay, so this is a "pewter" finish.  Isn't she beautiful!  This is the Melange Avanti Chest in Pewter Finish and is listed at $958 with free shipping.  For the reasons I selected this dresser, see above -- all my prior comments apply.  Dimensions:  30" H x 40" W x 20" D.  Perhaps the finish is problematical; would it really go with the wood tones of the bed and the secretary (not to mention the espresso finish on the wood elements of both of the love seats I previously offered as selections).    However, either of the mirrors above would look spectacularly fabulous with this dresser!  It would be a true show-stopper storage accent piece in the room.  My feeling is that with the right colored bedding and other decorative accents, it could work in the room with my selections, particularly if one chose the charcoal chenille upholstery on the Emma love seat I offered as a selection from Home Decorators (also the least expensive seating option at $343 on sale - see prior post). 

Going in yet another direction, I offer the Lexington Twilight Bay Wayside in distressed age white crackle finish, also found at Wayside:




This is an expensive dresser, even on sale (only until October 2, 2012) at $1,279 with free shipping.  Regular list price is a whopping $1,648!  Ouch!  However, this manufacturer stressed that it is a solid hardwood construction.  While this dresser is not as embellished as the two offerings above, it does have a white distressed finish, three drawers with two pulls each, lovely-shaped legs and the little "bump out" serpentine detail in the drawer fronts and top, as well as a graceful skirt all around the front and sides.  Decidedly feminine, but understated.  The pulls are perhaps the closest in style to the Inspiration dresser.  Some wood embellishments could always be antiqued in a suitable color and glued on...just saying.  Dimensions:  36" H x 43" W x 18" D.

Last, but not least, for those who perhaps do not want to splurge on two pieces (secretary and dresser - like yours truly), I offer this much more reasonably priced dresser, also found at Wayfair:



Before you say anything, the price is -- $483 on sale (list price is $799), and includes free shipping.  As might be expected, this dresser/chest sold out and a new shipment is not expected until the beginning of November, 2012.  This is the Carolina Accents Posy Chest:
  • Antique white finish
  • Constructed of wood
  • Hand-painted pink posies and leafy green vines design

  • Love the dark stained top, it's curvy lines, the serpentine shape to the top and drawer fronts, and the nice skirt treatment on the front and sides.  Altogether, it looks like a much more expensive piece.  Okay, so it's got pink posies on it.  I can live with that!  A paint job could always be done if you want to banish the posies :)  On the other hand, there's no law that says the accent color has to be blue.  While I like blue, I'm not a fan of it in the bedroom, I find it too cold, brrrrrr!  Pink (with greenery), on the other hand, are long-time favorite colors in combination.  Dimensions:  34" H x 42" W x 19" D -- size is good! 

    The dresser appears to have two drawers at the top, but the bottom two drawers are full across.  The overall look is two pulls per drawer.  The pulls are similar in design (although do not appear as substantial) as the pulls on the Pulaski Versailles dresser (the first dresser featured, above).  Personally, I would buy this dresser and opt for an antiqued white finish on a Ballard Designs bonnet-top secretary.  I think they would contrast beautifully with a dark-finished canopy bed and coordinate beautifully with either Erin or Emma love seats and dark espresso finished wood legs/trim.  Note:  The finish in the photo does not appear to be an antique white, and some comments at Wayfair indicated that it had a greenish cast and was not antique white.  A couple other comments didn't indicate any problems with the finish.  Soooo, buyer beware, as per usual when ordering something by mail!

    What's left - THE CHAIR!

    Oh my Goddess, yes, the chair.  This chair gave me fits, let me tell you!  I was not expecting to find something easily like the antique chair in the Inspiration photo.  It appears to me to be either English Regency or French Regence, from around 1790-1830, ebony finish.  CHA CHING!!!!

    Nope - couldn't find a new retail chair anywhere near this style.  I even looked for reproductions.  Sigh.  Now that is to say I did not spend hundreds of hours looking either; just looked at the regular places that are my "go to" when shopping for "the look for less." 

    So, I rank my search for a chair an abject failure.  But one must have a chair for the secretary. So, here are few I found that I liked and thought were more or less within the "spirit" of the Inspiration Room as a whole.

    The following selections are from Home Decorators Online:

    Zoe arm chair (Home Decorators) $199 on sale and $50 standard shipping.  Upholstery options available, this is in grey velvet, a little bit of lux, with a sleek black finish on the wood (dimensions: 40" x 22"):



    If you want to add a definite animal print to the room (aside from the somewhat wimpy throw pillows in leopard or cheetah print on the love seat, see prior post), a twist on the Zoe arm chair is the Safari Siena Chair in a zebra print featured in either brown tones (with a walnut finished wood), or black and white (with ebony finished wood).  Here it is in black and white - and wouldn't this look fabulous with the Ballard Designs bonnet top secretary in distressed black finish:



    You can see a little bit more emphasis in the lines, a deeper seat, more substance in the frame, and there is a ribbed accent around the seat cushion frame.  This chair certainly makes a statement! No, this chair would definitely not go with the Carolina Accents Posy Dresser unless the posies were painted out. This chair is on sale right now for $215 plus shipping of $60.  Dimensions: 38"H x 24.5"W x 28"D -- so, it's back is more circular and a little shorter than the Zoe chair, but the seat is wider and deeper and the framing is more substantial. 

    Of interest:  As far as I can tell this identical chair is on sale right now at target.com for less than $148 (regular prize $156.99) -- the Beauvoir Occasional Chair in Zebra

    Going in a somewhat different direction, I found this chair at Target:



    The Swoop upholstered slipper accent chair in Velvet Smoke.  Ooooohhhhh!  The price is right at $136.  So, if you wanted to stick with the blue accents in the Inspiration photo, this might be a way to do it without introducing it into the bedding.  It could go blue, or it could go grey.  Wood finish is espresso.  Dimensions:  33.5 " H x 24.0 " W x 28.0 " D.  Not exactly an arm chair, but not exactly a dinette chair, either.  Looks comfortable! 

    There is a somewhat similarly styled chair but with nailhead trim for about $30 more, and there is also a matching settee with nailhead trim.  No tufted back, but perhaps the two pieces together would make en suite and one would not have to shop around for a chair that would coordinate with a loveseat.  The chair and settee are part of the Swoop collection and come in slate (sounds rather like smoke velvet to me).  The settee is also available in black and white damask for the same price ($255) and there is also a matching chair.  Hmmm.... I am partial to black and white :)

    Going in yet a different direction again, there are tufted back occasional chairs that would tie into the tufted back love seats (Erin and Emma, see prior post).  Here is the Curves Hourglass Chair, not sure of the color -- it's not listed in the online advert!  It looks sort of a taupe, but it could be dark grey, too.  It's chenille fabric with espresso wood finish:




    It also comes in oyster and chocolate upholstery.  Price $150.  Dimensions: 33.5 " H x 25.5 " W x 29.0 " D.

    These are my choices for the look for less Inspiration Bedroom from Traditional Home.  If you are hankering for a similar look to the Inspiration photo, I hope you may have found something here that you can build upon - at a more reasonable price :) 

    A Beautiful Bedroom: The Look for Less!

    Hola, darlings!  It's another beautiful day in Milwaukee but not quite as warm as yesterday, which is a good thing because I actually worked up quite a sweat wearing my heavy blue sweatshirt to cut the grass out front earlier today and had to stop half-way through and change into a tee shirt!  Front lawn is done; I should be attending to clean-up out back but instead I'm fooling around doing this instead, and I've put the sprinkler on out front.  Crazy, you say!  Yep, that's me. But it's been dry here again!  And I've got lots of dead areas in my front lawn from the really bad infestation of sod web worm this year coupled with that blasted drought.  Even though I watered (and paid for it, too, geez louise!) it's not the same as a good soaking rain once a week; sprinklers just cannot get the water spread evenly enough.

    Anyway, I want to make sure the damaged areas get plenty of water and I've been fertilizing, so the grass is growing nutso where it is actually growing, LOL!  There is a large are on the south area of the lawn that is in really sad shape.  I think I may have to have it torn out and start all over again with sod (no time to seed now, it's already the end of September - yep, that's me, always coming up with plans way too late, maybe I do that on purpose...) 

    Moving my attention to the loveseat or similar piece in the Inspiration photo:

    
    Here's the pic, once again, from Traditional Home's online website.  As I've mentioned before, lots of pricey
    antiques or specially-made furniture is evident in this beautiful room design.  I only have the photo, none
    of the particulars about who put it together or where items were obtained.

    My prior posts on this room:

    The secretary
    The bed
    First post/introduction

    I broke the room down into six elements to try and replicate in a reasonable facsimile for a reasonable price: bed; dresser; mirror, love seat; secretary; chair. 

    This post is dedicated to the love seat -- and every time I write that for some reason B-52's smash hit song from the 1970's Love Shack comes to mind...  Anyway, on with the love seats!

    The first place I looked was World Market because I recently did a post about using only World Market furnishings to furnish my living room (if it were bare) and I remembered WM had the cutest tufted back love seat:


    Isn't she adorable?  It's Erin Cute-as-a-Button (because of the multi-colored upholstered buttons) and it $450 (not including shipping).  Size 60" long, 32" deep, 32" tall.  Expresso finished solid birch legs.  Erin is upholstered in linen-textured fabric in natural.

    Okay, so she's not skirted in rich velvet and doesn't have a separate no-doubt down-filled seat cushion!  But Erin would do the job at the foot of the bed.

    I also found the Emma studio size tufted sofa at Home Decorators:


    On sale right now for just $343, plus $75 standard shipping -- such a deal!  Regular price is $429, which is still less than World Market's Erin love seat.  Emma measures 50" wide (so 10" less length than Erin), by 32" deep, 32" tall.  The upholstery is textured polyester chenille and it comes in natural and charcoal, which I think would look extremely sophisticated in a neutral color-scheme such as the Inspiration bedroom.  The wood trim/legs are in an espresso finish. 

    Note the leopard print pillows on the love seat in the Inspiration photo. 

    This cheetah print 18" square pillow is from Bed Bath and Beyond (online) and is $19.99:

    Not exactly a leopard print, but it is feline :) 

    Overstock.com has a good bargain - a twofer in four different animal prints (including cheetah and leopard) at under $30:

    Holy Hathor - Passed My First MN Blog Anniversary!

    Hathor is the cow-headed goddess of ancient Egypt and she predates the Egyptian dynasties, nobody knows really how old she is!  So instead of saying Holy Cow I say Holy Hathor :)  Just a little aside...

    I can't believe it.  For some reason, I figured that I had started this blog in February, 2012, but when I looked back a little while ago I saw that my very first post for this blog was on September 17, 2011, so I started it shortly after I got back from my trip to the CCI meeting and Kings v. Queens Tournament in St. Louis.  Wow - how time flies!

    So, Happy Anniversary to Me :)



    Every blogger knows that it's a love/hate relationship with your blog(s).  Mostly love, but sometimes it's a drag, particularly if one feels obligated to blog every day no matter that you maybe don't have anything to write about, or just don't feel like writing. When I started the Goddesschess Blog to accompany our then online website (we took it down some months ago, but I suspect it will be resurrected again) back in April 2007 I never suspected that I would get so intently caught up in it.  But I did.  But I have also got over the thing that I must post every day else the fans will go away!  Well, for Goddesschess that's very important to us, of course.  Fortunately, although I've lightened up my blogging at Goddesschess blog, our fans have not deserted us!

    But Maison Newton, which is purely personal and not to advance any goals other than those of my ego, which are goals, I'll admit, but not very worth ones, not like supporting getting more females to play chess because of all of the game's known benefits in developing emotionally and cognitively, for instance, and helping to promote the game where we can for female players -- well, I'm a little more loosey-goosey about posting here regularly.

    Here's to the next year!

    Saturday, September 29, 2012

    A Beautiful Bedroom: The Look for Less!

    Hola darlings!

    It's a beautiful Saturday here and I should be working out in the yard, finishing the clean-up from the storm that blew through here nearly two weeks ago now.  Naughty me, I'm lounging at my computer instead, as the sounds of the kids yelling and cheering in the soccer fields some distance across the road drifts in through the open patio door on the breeze out of the northwest.  And I'm enjoying looking up at the window on the staircase landing.  The sky is a gorgeous blue today, with pale whisps of clouds, and part of the frame is filled with golden-kissed leaves from my neighbors' tree, all fluttering in the breeze like a hundred birds.

    Here is the original photo of the Inspiration Bedroom:


    This photo is from the Traditional Home website.  As you can see, it's pretty high-end, filled with gorgeous antiques.  The secretary has a mirrored front and a pull-down door that is used as the desk top.  While I cannot see the bottom portion of it because it is hidden by the bed, I figure it probably has a couple of drawers and some lovely cabriole legs. 

    Original postPrior post where I presented my selections for the canopy bed. 

    Here are my selections for the "secretary" that is in the inspiration photo:




    Arlington Computer Secretary Desk w Hutch - Traditional Elegance w Modern Functionality - Custom Wood Stain
    Item #: 83775
    Price: $2,054 (on back order until June 2013!)

    On my budget, this is very expensive!  Realistically, this is the type of piece one would probably be able to find at a good price in a second-hand or thrift store, or perhaps on Craig's List.  For this blog, though, I limit my searches to brand new items.

    I love this piece (despite it's price) for it's great classic lines, beautiful rich finish, and best of all, it's a 21st century-designed piece so it's rigged up for a computer.  The upper part is not mirrored (like the inspiration piece)  but there is lots of storage.  This vendor has several different styles and finishes for a secretary desk with hutch, all priced about the same. 

    I also totally fell in love with this secretary/hutch by Hooker Furniture, that I found at Wayfair:




    Hooker Furniture 7 Seas 27" W Glass Door Secretary - 500-50-545
    Price:  $1,868 and with free printing at the time of this publication, but it's on back-order right now.  The finish is gorgeous and it has burl wood and a serpentine front.  There is a single door front on the upper cabinet, not two doors, and it appears to have a mirrord back panel, so echoes the look of the inspiration piece. 

    At a more moderate price of $1,129 from Ballard Designs, the Medici Secretary Desk with Hutch, and it comes in several different finishes.  The photo shows a dark painted finish but I think the Antique Mahogany finish would be perfect for the "look for less:"


    I love the bonnet-top styling, but there is no glass in the door, only chicken wire.  So the overall look is a little more cottage-y in a painted finish; but in the dark mahogany I think it would be gorgeous.  It is shipped from Italy and takes awhile, and yeah, it's not 100% wood (if you want 100% wood you're going to pay through the nose for new furniture, and better inspect it thoroughly in person before you buy it and know what you're looking at, too) and the comments on the quality of the piece were all over the place.  But my feeling is that it's always a craps shoot when you order anything online.  You never know how it will come through the shipping process, or what it will actually look like until it's unboxed. 

    Monday, September 24, 2012

    Things I Do That Make Me Happy

    Hola darlings!

    I have not forgotten about finishing up my bedroom look for less -- I will get back to it, I promise you.  I am eager to show you what I came up with.

    I've just spent the weekend mostly outdoors chopping up large branches and limbs that came down like rain in my back and front and neighbor's yards to the north on Monday during a freak burst of wind; it's been windy ever since, including today, an entire week later, and branches are still coming down -- just not the big giant-size ones.  I think I lost about 20% of the crown of my giant double-trunked Chinese elm out back.  There are photos of some of the mess posted last Tuesday and later, but in looking at them I don't get the feeling I'm looking at something overwhelming like I do when I step outside and am confronted with a MESS! 

    
    Large branches to 'deconstruct' but oh my, it's just a gorgeous day out there.  Mid-60's, yeah, it's breezy
    but the sun is full force.  Look at that blue sky, isn't it gorgeous!  Look at the colors of my purple
    leafed Newport plum tree, and the purple-red maples street trees -- and you can see my skinny little green
    maple out front too, LOL!  I specified a purple or red maple - the city planted a GREEN one instead.  Sigh. 
    But I love it anyway!
    I'm by no means a photographer but I love this photo for it's colors, and the contrast between
    shade and bright sun-lit areas, not to mention the graphic lines and patterns cast by
    shade and shadow.  Maybe you see now why I like to spend so much time hanging outside in my yard :)
    To me, it is a beautiful sanctuary, far away from the cares, trials and tribulations of this world.
    Anyway, I got my workout over the weekend, not only hiking to and from the Pick 'n Save loaded with groceries in my carry-bags (my arms stretched a good 2 inches, I think) but lugging, chopping, sawing, cutting, tugging, pulling, twisting, and raking raking raking out front until I thought my arms were going to fall off!  Now I've got three stuffed full yard waste trash bins.  Pick-up is tomorrow.  I am headed out shortly to do more chopping.  The really large branches in my backyard are left, but I've got no place to go with them, so I'm going to chop and bundle until I wear myself out, and stack them next to the yard waste containers.  As long as the bundles are 4 feet or less in length, and are tied with rope/strings for easily picking them up and tossing them into the yaws of the truck, they will be taken, too.  Ugh, not looking forward to that, but I've got to get rid of those giant branches and limbs as much as I can -- the grass out back needs cutting!

    Fitting, then, that it occurred to me this morning as I was laying in bed stretching and staring up at my canopy, thinking how much I love my bed, that I want to write about some things I do every single day that are meaningful to me, just little things but that make me happy.  Your list may be different.  I hope, darlings, that you have such a list!  If not, think about it, make up your own list, and go for it!

    1.  I MAKE MY BED.

    Ever since I redid my room in February, I make my bed every single day.  Before then, it used to be hit or miss.  Mostly I would make my bed in the morning, but sometimes when I felt pressed for time, I didn't. Then I'd come home to an unmade messy bed and think to myself - yech, and not feel at all like I was going to be resting in my very own special sanctuary, just a messy un-made-up place! 

    
    My bedroom in February, 2012, after re-do.  I won't lie - the canopy makes
    me feel like a Queen or, ahem, the Goddess I am.  In truth, we are all Goddesses.
    We just have to discover the truth inside at our own pace and time.

    I cannot tell you how happy it makes me when I come home from work worn out, tired and cranky, go to my bedroom to change out of my work stuff and walk into a cozy, beautiful room with a made-up bed!  It makes me feel like a Queen or like I'm living in a spa -- even though I'm the one who makes the bed in the morning!  Unless I'm stripping it down and putting on new sheets (I only do that once a week, on Saturday) it takes me about 5 minutes in the morning to make up the bed.  I do it after I've washed my face, put moisturizer and make-up primer on.  I like to let that stuff "set" on my face for awhile before I apply make-up and that wait time is the perfect time to put the bed back together.  As you see, I don't use a lot of pillows and accessories, so that makes things go back together quickly!  Not much fluffing and arranging to do. 

    It makes a big difference in how I feel to see that beautiful made-up bed at night.

    2.  I PAMPER MY COMPLEXION TWICE A DAY.

    My skin care regimine used to be hit or miss.  I think we're all guilty to some extent or other of neglecting to take good care of our bodies and our skin when we're younger, because after all, we usually look damn good and our skin is dewy, soft and pliant.  Well, at 61, it's a different story than at 21, har!  I got lucky, though.  A few years ago my younger sister Yvonne got turned onto a local manufacturer of aloe-based facial products.  Let's just say I was skeptical but after attending a party/demonstration of these products I bought some and started using L'Bri products in February, 2010.  They've made an amazing difference in my skin.

    
    L'Bri 'set' of products for combination skin.  I substitute the gentle facial cleanser for the
    cleansing product on the far left.  The gentle facial cleanser is perfect for extremely sensitive
    aging skin like mine (due to hormonal issues).  Two L'Bri products I cannot live without:  Facial Peel
     and  Maxifirm!  Those products alone have made me look like I'm in my early 40's, not my early 60's!

    Regardless of what products you use in your own regime - you should have a regime!  The key is using your products consistently, morning and night.  Really, if you can't take 10 minutes in the morning and 10-15 minutes at night to spend a little time pampering yourself, something is terribly out of balance.  Aren't you worth that little bit of time to make yourself feel and look better?  But I tell you - this came as a major revelation to me.  And teaching myself how to take that time - less than 30 minutes every day when added up - JUST FOR MYSELF to attend to my own personal beauty needs - WOW.  It truly has made a big difference in my life.  The L'Bri products have wrought an amazing transformation in my skin.  It is now smooth, dewy, soft, and pliant.  Yes, I have some wrinkles but they are laugh lines and the 'jowl' lines that come with time and gravity.  Ain't gonna have a face lift, so there they are - but they disappear when I smile; then it looks like I have dimples (not kidding!) So I'm smiling a lot these days.  And people smile back :)

    I've received compliments on my complexion since I started using L'Bri products.  Never used to be told how beautiful my complexion was!  And here's a true story -- I don't remember if I wrote it here or not, but I did report this to my sis Yvonne and other friends/family because it was just so funny and unbelievable!  On August 24th I underwent a heart catheterization and while I was on the skinny little table (I thought I would fall off but I didn't) waiting for the doctor to enter the "procedure room", shaking like a leaf, eyes tightly shut and tears leaking out of the corners of my eyes, absolutely terrified, one of the prep nurses came over and started rubbing my shoulder, and gently blotted up those leaking tears with a tissue -- I felt like a big cry-baby but I WAS SCARED HALF TO DEATH. 

    And then she said, you have such beautiful skin!  Yes, she said it, I didn't dream it because I had received no happy juice at that time to make me relax, not even a teeny little tranquilizer ahead of time and I sure could have used one, let me tell you!  So, if a nurse in an operating room tells you that you have beautiful skin, you better believe it, darlings!  And I said oh, thank you.  I use L'Bri products that my sister sells.  LOL!  Goddess' Truth! 

    So, whatever products you use, take the time to use them the right way.  Spend 10 minutes in the morning and 10-15 minutes in the evening locked in the bathroom away from everyone and everything and just pamper yourself and your complexion, neck/throat and decolletage area.  When you feel good about how you look, there is a spring in your step.  And people do notice that spring in  your step, and your fine skin, even if they don't mention it (but some may). 

    3.  I EAT A PIECE OF DOVE DARK CHOCOLATE.

    We all know that chocolate is chock full of the same kind of endorphines and such that flood our bodies and brain when we're in love.  So eat chocolate and feel like you're in love all the time :)  LOL!  Dark chocolate also has potent antioxidants and one piece is all it takes to receive a benefit.  So, not only do I get the rich, sensual deliciousness melting inside my mouth YUM, I also am doing something good for my heart and health and overall just feel-good-ness.  I admit I'm disciplined - I eat one piece and one piece only most days, but on occasion I'll eat two pieces, one in the morning and one in the evening with a glass of wine.

    Image from Candy Warehouse Online!


    4.  I ENJOY A GLASS OF WINE.

    Red wines are good for us!  One glass is all it takes.  Take it just before bed, after the kids have gone to sleep so you can fully appreciate and unwind.  Put your feet up, pour a glass for your hubby/significant other too.  Maybe he'll give you a foot rub.  It works with Mr. Don :) 

    Photo from wine, dine, everything fine blog :)
    Beringer's is a reasonably priced tasty white zinfandel.

    5.  I COMMUNICATE WITH MY FRIENDS EVERY DAY.

    Friends include family.  It's so good to acknowledge that feeling of connectedness.  It provides me with an anchor, a sort of solidarity and strengh, to remember that I am not alone in this world.  I have people who love me, who like me, who admire me, and who will come to my aid, no questions asked.  That is truly a blessing.

    6.  I DO SOMETHING NICE FOR SOMEONE.

    It doesn't have to be a big thing.  You'd be amazed what it can mean simply saying please and thank you to a clerk or waitstaff, smiling at people, holding a door for someone, giving up a seat on a bus to a woman with a baby or an older person, or paying someone a sincere compliment.  The world can feel such a mean, nasty horrid place sometimes -- and reading the news sure doesn't do much to improve that impression!  But that doesn't mean you, personally, won't be able to make a difference, because you can.

    7.  I GET OUTSIDE FOR A LITTLE WHILE EVERYDAY.

    I'm a walker.  Well, that is my primary mode of transportation (with the bus) because I do not drive or own a motor vehicle. You don't have to walk.  Just go stand or sit down somewhere outside, breathe in the air, soak in sunshine or smell the rain. Or watch a blizzard, eek!  Spend 5 minutes on your front porch, on a sidewalk or outside your office.  Ten minutes is better.  Look up at the sky.  Listen to the sounds around you.  You'll be amazed how quickly you'll be able to pick up a distant bird call even in the busiest part of downtown, or imagine "creatures" in cloud formations scudding across deep blue skies.  There is nothing quite like the smell of rain, or the awesomeness of standing in a sheltered area outside looking out over a thunderstorm or a downpour of "white" rain. Three or four nights ago a thunderstorm rumbled through my area around 4 in the morning.  Even though it was 'coldish' outside (in the low 50's), I got up and opened my window wider so I could listen to the sounds of the storm as it approached (complete with numerous lightning flashes), and then the rain came!  Snuggling under my quilt while the curtains puffed out with the aromas of the earth and the rain were better than any lullaby. The world truly is a beautiful and awe-inspiring place.  We are creatures of the Earth -- we were made from earth, after all, according to the biblical account and it's true -- we are made up of the elements of our world:  minerals and water!  So, we have a natural affinity to nature. 

    I took the very first photo above, just a little while ago, just to post here, because it is a beautiful autumn day today.  The photo below, also taken a little while ago, is looking in the opposite direction of my yard:


    Yeah, a mess!  A lot of the smaller debris was removed yesterday.  I love the interplay of light and shadow in my yard.  On a breezy day like this the patterns are always-changing every second!  I love the peeks of robin's egg blue skies through the trees and arborvitaes!  Neighbors to the west have not been home evidently, or if they are home, they haven't gotten around to cutting down the partially broken limb that came down on their tree -- you can just see it on the other side of my rickety picket fence near center rear of the photo. 

    So, that's my list.  To which, on Sundays, I add:  READING SUNDAY PAPER WHILE ENJOYING MY SINGLE CUP OF FRENCH ROAST INSTANT COFFEE (TASTER'S CHOICE). 

    Friday, September 21, 2012

    Oh Crap, More Storm Damage!

    Whoa Darlings!  Well, I have good news!  My Mom is doing much better and is going into a rehab facility where she can work with physical therapists to get her strength back.  Thank Goddess!  She is happy and so are all of we!

    For my own self, also pretty good news.  I am not going to die in about 3 years or less, I should (hopefully) live much longer.  The PAH is not nearly as bad as my primary doc, Heart Doctor #1 and Heart Doctor #2 thought!  Nope!  That terrorizing heart catheterization proved that earlier tests' results were grossly over-stated.  I still have a form of atrial fibrillation that is best treated by an electrical "shock" to the heart, and thereafter I will be on meds to regulate my heartbeat for the rest of my life, but sure beats the alternative, or a pacemaker!    The mitral valve leak, on the other hand, they won't do anything about until it gets really bad, and right now it's not anywhere near "really bad."  So that's good news, too!  Regarding those killer-pressures inside my lung arteries and capillaries, well, guess it seems those weren't so bad after all, either. 

    So, I'm wondering, did my tests get mixed up with someone else's?  Was my heart ultrasound tech high on something when she was doing my test?  And just why the hell did it hurt so much, anyway?  I've had other kinds of ultrasounds before and none of them hurt as much as this one did.

    All unknowns, never to be resolved unless I intend to undertake a representing-myself malpractice suit.  Ain't gonna happen, darlings, I can tell you that!  I've got better thing to do with whatever time I have left, and you know what, it still could be three years (or less) or 30 years.  The bottom line -- those docs don't know jack shit when it comes right down to it.  There you have it.

    Anyway, I went out into the back yard last evening after I got home to get a better grip on the clean-up I'm going to have to undertake this weekend, and lo and behold, in my backyard I found a newly deposited LARGE limb, and in my next-store neighbor's yard, that giant "branch" that had torn off one of my trees (probably the Granddaddy tree that hovers outside my kitchen window) and settled right on top of the tree that is in the middle of their back yard (thereby saving their house from some serious damage if this limb had struck it!) had finally come down during the strong winds sometime during Wednesday. 


    Yeah, it's a big sucker.  This photo does not do it justice.  I should be able to break it down into component pieces and stuff it into my yard waste containers, but I'll need to use my hand saw to tackle the lower limb (not shown in this pic, the "branch" was just too long!)  I tugged  this "branch" down last evening from the tree where it was dangling whose trunk is shown in this photo. Quite a work out! 

    When I was coming down the stairs Thursday morning to leave the house for the walk to the bus stop, it was finally light enough outside for me to see my my neighbors' yard.  Oh my!  I mean, I understood when I talked to my neighbors a few days ago that the "branch" that landed on top of their tree and somehow balanced there (for a few days, anyway), was a big one, but I had no idea just how big!


    Sorry for the photo quality, it was taken through a screen and a closed window.  The photos that I took after with the window open were even worse, with glare coming off the glass to the right.   Well, you can get an idea of how large this "branch" is.  Buster (the dog) is just about 12 o'clock high, center top!  You can also see part of the other "branch" that fell on top of the fence, balancing "just so" with 'half' on my neighbor's side to the north and 'half' on my side to the south.  Insurance company still has not sent around a clean-up crew.  Well, tomorrow I'm tackling my yard clean-up (since I do not have to work after all, ya hoo!) despite forecasted chilly rain and 30 mph winds from the NW.  Bah! I spit in your face, Northwest Wind, despite having it blown right back at me!  Ha!

    Wednesday, September 19, 2012

    A Beautiful Bedroom: The Look for Less!

    Prior post and inspiration photo:



    Just a quick post tonight.  I want to show you a couple of beds I found, "reasonably" priced.  Of course, "reasonably" is in the pocketbook of the beholder.  Me, I wouldn't pay that kind of money for this kind of bed, I'd buy a much less expensive metal four poster instead, or go the route I did in my own bedroom and just hang a "four poster net canopy" from the ceiling around my regular old style bed with no posts of any kind that gives me the effect of draping around my bed for about $30. Hey, whatever works! 

    These are very pretty, though, I have to say!

    First option from Wendy Furniture, includes free shipping so that's a pretty good deal, the:

    Carey Traditional Dark Wood Queen Poster Canopy Bed
    $519.99
    Includes
    Carey Traditional Dark Wood Queen Poster Canopy Bed
    Dimensions
    QUEEN HEAD BOARD 65.3" X 4.1" X 53.6"H
    QUEEN FOOT BOARD 65.3" X 4.1" X 21.3"H
    QUEEN RAIL 82" X 3" X 7"H
    QUEEN CANOPY 64" X 88.1" X 83.9"H
    This bed has much simpler lines than the inspiration bed, but an elegant finish and lines.  Nope, no curved upholstered headboard -- I did not find a bed like that online, I figure the one in the inspiration photo was probably custom made -- CHA CHING!  At $520, the Carey Traditional Poster Canopy Bed from Wendy Furniture would provide a fabulous Shaker or "Zen" like look for a relatively modest price.

    Bed option 2 is more ornate in its design, closer in spirit, I think, to the bed in the inspiration photo, but it has a much darker finish than what appears to be a medium "Pecan" or "Cherry." 

    CM7720Q Queen Size Canopy Bed in Espresso finish, from Shoppers Furniture.com:

    Regular Price: $1,047.60
    Your Price: $582.00
    SKU: 38CM7720Q
    Shipping NOT included in price - in home delivery will be extra (buyer beware)

    Features:
    Durable solid wood and veneers construction
    Queen Size Canopy Bed
    Espresso finish
    Traditional style
    Stylish furniture
    Canopy Bed


    Includes:
    1 x Queen Size Canopy Bed


    Dimensions:
    Queen Size Canopy Bed:
    88"L x 65-1/2"W x 84-1/2"H



    This bed features curves in the posters and feet, as well as what appears to be a taller than usual headboard.  I love the dark finish.  It is sometimes difficult to tell from photographs, but overall I'd say this bed has a much more "substantial" presence and heft to it than either the inspiration photo bed or comparison bed #1.  This bed is definitely commanding!

    More of the bedroom look for less tomorrow!

    Tuesday, September 18, 2012

    Storm Damage

    Hola darlings!

    What a day.  I'm exhausted!  This morning I had to leave the house extra early to catch the blood bus to go to the hospital to get a blood draw to check my "blood thinness level."  LOL, that's what I call it anyway.  I can never remember the correct "initials" for what it's measuring - it has to do with clotting factor since I'm on "Coumadin" better known as Warfarin -- rat poison.  Yep, that stuff. 
    INL?  IHL?  IML?  Whatever.

    Anyway, in addition to the storm damage I was able to see via the flood light outside my patio door last night (a ravaged backyard), this morning, as I was headed down the stairs from my bedroom I happened to stop at the stair landing and look out the window there -- and saw, much to my horror, a view something akin to this:


    What doesn't show from this photo (taken shortly after I arrived home this evening) is the damage to my neighbor's fence nor the sheer size of this larger than a small tree limb that came flying down yesterday from my giant Chinese Elm out back.  Damn! 

    But I didn't have time to try to move it, besides I was also dressed for work, complete with jewelry and dress shoes  -- I had to leave the house at 6:35 a.m. in order to walk to the bus stop in time to wait for the particular bus that would deliver me just a couple blocks away from the hospital lab shortly after 7 a.m.  It's about a 10 minute walk to that bus stop; and, since you never know when the buses might be running early (or late), you have to be there ahead of time, just in case.  Fortunately, this morning, while it was brisk (about 45 degrees with 30 mph winds whipping out of the northwest -- that "cold" front that came through yesterday afternoon was a DOOZY!), it was clearing from the west and north and I got to watch an absolutely incredibly beautiful sun rise to the east, about 7-10 miles away, because where I live sits on top of a ridge or plateau that has a spectacular view toward the east, where Lake Michigan lies (although we can't actually see the water).  The clouds piled up this morning out over Lake Michigan to make "mountains" that have often been mistaken for the real thing, even by long-time residents!  And then the Sun climbed that extra fraction of a thousandth of an inch and BAM! - LET THERE BE LIGHT!  Glowing on "mountain clouds" fire oranges and reds and yellow light that I could instantly feel raising the temperature in the chilly air around me.

    Thank you, Goddess, for that spectacular sun rise.  I sure needed it.  Things have been somewhat grim around Maison Newton lately.

    I chatted with the neighbors whose fence had been damaged earlier this evening - their HO insurance is taking care of "tree" removal and fence repair, and they wanted no part of accepting money from me to reimburse them for their damages, despite my offers to do so.  Fortunately, no gigantic tree limbs crashed into their house (or into mine, for that matter).  Whew! 

    Photos I took tonight when I got home of the havoc caused by that cold front coming through yesterday -- sure is a big honking mess!  These photos don't show the full reality of it, but I'm not that good a photographer to do close-ups and such of overblown rain gutters, glogged street gutters and such, in addition to dents in siding, leaves plastered all over the place, etc.

    These photos were taken between 6:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. tonight (September 18, 2012);





     
    Hundreds of these dead branches and twigs were blown off the trees in my backyard during the storm front
    that came through just before 4:00 p.m. on September 17, 2012.
    Just one of hundreds of very large bare dead branches that came down from the trees in my backyard during the storm that swept through on September 17, 2012. This branch is very long, maybe 25 feet long, but not very thick!  Thank Goddess!

      


    Deck, viewed from the west.  As you can see, the west and north sides of the house took the brunt of the storm,
    but no area actually was "spared" from debris.  Right now, My roof and my covered rain gutters are clogged
    with storm-blown debris.


    The front of my house, including garage entrance, faces east (toward Lake Michigan) but you can see the
    storm-blown debris piled up, nonetheless.  My driveway is 30 feet long and is littered with similar.
    It will take some effort to clean it up since I will be using manual "broom" and "rake" power to do so!
    Looking toward the north fence line.  One secton of fence was blown "apart," you can see it where the birdhouse sits on top of one of the posts.  I was able to shove it back together tonight but it will have to be reinforced with metal rods and nails.
    North fence line, lower yard.
    Neighbor to the west's damaged tree.
    Looking toward the west fence line from the north side of the deck.  The plastic arbor didn't blow down either!
    Not sure this is saving "the best for last" -- it's a rather large branch caught in the
    V or "crotch" or "delta"  area of the gigantic Chinese Elm :)  Oh my!

    What is most amazing of all, besides the lack of trees or large parts thereof actually crashing through mine or my neighbors' roofs, was that my plastic deck table, chairs and crank-up umbrella were still standing on the deck in their exact spots from the last time I left them (Sunday afternoon, before I ran inside admitting defeat by yellow jackets (wasps) hunting for food and human sweat).  One plant holder had been knocked over - by a large fallen limb - and I rescued that last night and put it back upright. A decorative element whose base was planted into the rock-hard ground on the north side of the dec was also knocked out of the ground and laid on to the deck, I left it laying where it fell.  It will have to wait until the weekend to be cleaned up and put away (it's now that time of the year, anyway, despite the storm). 

    So, except for the inconvenience at this particular time of having to try and marshall the strength and time to do clean-up, I am very grateful to have escaped further damage.

    Monday, September 17, 2012

    A Beautiful Bedroom: The Look for Less!

    Hola darlings!

    Well, I need to distract myself. This has been the Summer from Hell at Maison Newton and, unfortunately, no end in sight.  My Mom is sick.  She's 85 - okay, lived a long life, etc. etc.  But she's still my Mom.  I can't really focus my brain right now on anything, not even my own health issues.  Like - Damn, People!  Damn!

    So, tonight I picked out this photograph of a "neutral" bedroom with "animal print" elements in it from the Traditional Home Magazine online and decided to see if I can duplicate it for "less."  Mind you, I've no idea, actually, what the original elements cost, but as we know they were featured in a Traditional Home room, changes are they're more than I would ever dream of paying for an entire house of furniture, let alone a single room :)

    So now, onto distraction!

    Here is the link (I hope) to the photo of this room from Traditional Home online. 

    Tomorrow I'll put up photos of the storm damage around my house that occurred earlier today when a violent storm system blew through just before 4 pm. I was at work.  We got a torrential downpour downtown around my building but no violent winds that I could see, no tons of thunder and/or lightning or hail.  I came home around 8:10 pm from the hospital, flicked on the light out back to a scene of - well, let's just say Mother Nature threw a rather wild party.  I had hints of her follies on the 9 block walk home from the bus stop -- I could see tree limbs down, and lots of leaves plastered in places where they wouldn't normally be plastered!  Wow!  It was too dark out to take photos, even with the flash, and I'm in no shape to do it in any event.  Some folks got hit a lot worse than I did.  At least I didn't have a foot of hail stones piled up against my patio door!

    Here's the bedroom! I love the decidedly traditional slant of the decorating; but notice that no nightstands are flanking the bed -- and no mirror (starburst or otherwise, ha!) or painting above the bedstead!  This room is remarkable, actually, for its lack of wall decoration.  It is not by any means devoid of decorative elements, but the ones that are present are all the more striking for the restraint in which they were used.  Of course, the reading lamps are in the ceiling, and there are individual control panels on either side of the bed head (you can just see the one peeking out on the left side of the bed, about in the center at the edge of the striped pillow!)

    So, let me see what I can make of this room for those of us of more modest pocketbooks. I will look at (1) bed) (2) dresser (3) mirror (4) love seat (5) secretary/desk (6) side chair.  Right now, I need to go to bed and try to get some sleep!

    Sunday, September 16, 2012

    Wedding Pictures

    Some photos from my niece's wedding:

    My sister Debbie, Heather, Randy
    Bride's brother Ken, Mom (Grandma Newton), Grandma Varble
    Half of me and jokester of the family, brother
    Jeff, with baby doll
    Great-niece Taylor, princess in training

    Great-nephew Austin and nephew-in-law John

     
    Heather, her best friend maid of honor,
    great-niece Milena and daughter of maid of honor
    (I don't remember their names!)

     
    Great-nephews Matty and Austin 

    Heather and Jim

    My sister Debbie

    Great-niece Milena
    Heather and Jim
    Wedding cake

    Bride's father Randy, my sister Debbie, Mom, Heather's
    big brother Ken behind Debbie and Mom
     
    Jim's Dad, Jim, Jim's Mom