Happiness at the Happy Place

We’ve been coming to The Happy Place for many years now.

While living in two different states and on two different continents.

That’s just how much we love it.

And so last year, when we finished our first year as Expats, having sold the house up in the Northeast, we took a long-term rental at The Happy Place for a month and a half.

And as we imagined, many weeks at The Happy Place were better than one.  {That’s my kind of math!}  So somewhere in there, we called a realtor to just look at our options to possibly buy a little place.

And so I did.  On one very rainy morning, in between other renters, I quickly looked at what was available, snapped some pictures, made a prioritized list and tucked the information away to discuss with the husband when we were back in the same country together and we could figure out exactly what our plans were for the next few years.

And then this past Winter we bit the bullet and bought my favorite place from over in Japan, without having anything more to show my husband than these kind of pictures ~

LR1

LR2

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And yet he trusted me that the major pieces in this furnished place were still good and that with a little paint and a little work we could make it much more “us” and up to date.

And I promised I would keep in mind that we would be renting it out when we weren’t there AND that we would also be living in it all summer.  And I could strike some kind of balancing in decorating to make it all work so that we’d be happy, but not purchase expensive things we’d be disappointed if they were accidentally broken by renters.

And I totally kept my promise.  And did the whole thing on a shoestring budget.

So here’s what I’ve really been up to while The Cuties are at camp!

It’s a little hard to tell in the original dark and terrible photos, but the walls were beige.  And the sisal carpet is beige.  And the big sofa is beige.  And the kitchen tile is beige. So I lived in fear of sitting down and turning beige like a chameleon.  We needed a little contrast and texture!

I had the main living space painted in Sherwin Williams Upward, and removed all the many palmetto pillows and art (I counted 27 in the place!).  The new pillows all come from Pier One, Target and Garden Ridge, so it won’t be a tragedy if a renter spills something on one.  I took down the awkward vertical mirror and added an abstract painting that nicely brings in all the greens from the view outside of the lagoon.

sofa

I de-cluttered the side table and added a faux mercury glass lamp for a little shine.  I also added a few books of interest and a Guest Book for our renters {all from the bargain area at Barnes & Noble + my member discount!}.

tablescape1

When I took down the palmetto prints, I replaced them with these fun prints from Seaside Prints on Etsy.  I love the details in them as well as the quality.

art

I did reuse that massive mirror in a place where it seemed to fit better {and doesn’t it work best vertically?}.  Around that corner is our front door, so it’s nice to have a “quick check” spot.  I also replaced the palmetto plates on the side of the kitchen cabinets with some pretty taupe ones {not my first design choice, but they are masking the massive holes put there}.

full view

There had been three or four small containers of shells around the place when we moved in, and so I found this pretty bowl and consolidated them all in one spot.  And while I know it’s not an authentic glass fishing float, I was happy to find this little guy in a local shop, as he makes me think of Japan.

shellsfloats

The TV built-in was an easy fix once we took out a lot of dusty fake greenery.

tv

I spent all Spring believing this chair had to be replaced because it was too big for the room, but when we lifted up the ottoman to take it out we realized that was the root of the problem and the chair was perfectly fine on it’s own; problem solved!  And the elephant table was possibly my favorite find of the summer ~ I think he looks like something from Jonathan Adler, but would you believe he was only $50!

elephantstand

Here’s all that pretty lagoon greenery I was mentioning.  It’s been like Wild Kingdom this week, and I’ve had visits from our alligator, some ridiculously huge turtles and lots of baby deer just outside!

lagoon

And finally, this is what we now see when we walk in the door.   Pretty much sums it up.

happy

On a different note ~ thank you for all your lovely comments regarding the Lilly Pulitzer Giveaway.  Congratulations to Kellie Failla!  Please email me at FeltSoCute@gmail.com with your contact information so I can send the watch set to you.

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Giveaway!

I promised a Giveaway when we reached 1,000 Followers and here we are!

Thank you so much for your support and kind comments.

This has been a fun little adventure that’s taken a few unexpected twists and turns along the way {I, for one, certainly didn’t expect to be writing to you about life in Japan, that’s for sure!}

As a thank you I have this for one lucky reader ~

Lilly-Pulitzer-Watch-Set-Lucky-Charms-M

The straps are interchangeable and will fit adults or kids {Big Cutie has a set and I often steal borrow hers!}.  You will receive the Lucky Charms pattern set.

So here’s the deal:

Leave a comment here and you’re eligible to enter!

Leave a comment here telling me you’re a new follower and you’re eligible to enter!

Leave a comment here telling me you follow Felt So Cute on Facebook and you’re eligible to enter!

Leave a comment here telling me you follow Felt So Cute on Instagram and you’re eligible to enter!

Winner will be selected on Friday, August 2, 2013.

Again, thank you!

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We Just Got a Letter….

I have officially reached a new low in dorkiness in referencing Blue’s Clues.

Deal with it, please.

A letter arrived from camp from Big Cutie today and has me grinning from ear to ear.

She starts it ~

Dear Mom,

I am so G-L-A-D and happy that you sent me to this camp.

{and then fills me in on all sorts of wonderful minutiae that I care about tremendously as her mother and you, dear readers, will be bored to tears by}

and she signs it ~

Sincerely,

a really happy camper named Big Cutie

happyleah

Yeah, I’m doing the happy dance, here at the Happy Place, folks!

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Footloose and Fancy-Free

With The Cuties off at sleep away camp I am not responsible for checking in on, providing for, meeting up with, or otherwise merely keeping alive another human being for the first time in 11 years, 8 months and 29 days.

Not that I counted or anything.

So how have I spent my first four days of such bliss?

Indulging at the spa?  Gourmet dining? Shoe shopping extravaganzas?

Not so much.

I started off with a bang and had a full dental exam and teeth cleaning, followed by an eye exam and a rather depressing conversation about my age and needing to be more responsible about wearing reading glasses on a regular basis.

I think these are pretty cute.  Well look at that, I just snuck in a little shopping.

katespade

I’ve mentioned before that I have Crohn’s Disease, and so that night I had the pleasure of prepping for my annual colonoscopy.

Good times, people.  Good times. ;-)

The next day was the actual procedure {which went fine}, and then I promptly napped and took it easy the rest of the day per doctor’s orders.  Which also included no driving and no cocktails.  As if having a colonoscopy isn’t a complete and total killjoy.

Today I had my annual visit to the Ob/Gyn {ladies, please remember to do this each and every year!}, followed by a Remicade infusion {the IV medication I receive for my Crohn’s Disease every other month}, a follow-up visit with my Gastroenterologist, a physical and an EKG.

Do I know how to par-tay or what?

I’ve ended my visit up North with a concert in the park and a chance to visit with many friends {cocktails included tonight!}.  I miss them all quite a bit and wish I had more time, but there are projects beckoning down South and visitors soon arriving.

I do have to mention the true definition of amazing friends.  My hosts not only put me up while I was in town, but put up with my crazy schedule, and drove me to and from a colonoscopy.  That goes down in the history books as above and beyond the call of duty, even if your girlfriend happens to be a nurse.

I have a few bandaids from needles this week, but I also have some pretty fabulous friends.

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It Was Quite the Day

The Cuties and I left The Happy Place for yet another rather special destination.

We did not travel lightly.

luggage

{I told you so}.

Bright and early this morning The Cuties stepped onto the bus to head off to summer camp, making them the third generation of girls in my family to go to this very special place.  I was a camper for six years and a counselor there another year after that, and Camp had such a profound impact on my life that I’m fairly certain my husband’s and my dating went something like this:

Him: I love you.

Me: I love you too.  Now you know if we get married and have daughters some day they have to go to my camp.  Not just any camp, but my camp.

I am nothing if not subtle.

And then somewhere along the way we actually did get married and have children with two very distinct personalities and issues, and needs and things that make them special and sparkle.  And I had the opportunity to attend a reunion weekend back at my camp and speak with the directors about real live camp today in the modern world and not just the memories that live in my heart.  And I was even more convinced they had to go there.

And thankfully the man I married believed me and believed in camp.

Because not only did I see big smiley faces on the camp website of my Cuties with their new counselors and cabin mates tonight, but these words arrived in my inbox from the camp blog:

“One important goal we have for everyone at camp, campers and staff members alike, is for each person to relax and be her authentic self. If the real world pushes us to conform to lofty ideals of achievement and expectations of beauty, we want camp to be a haven from those pressures….I think part of the secret of camp and part of what makes it such successful sanctuary for girls is the nature and strength of the relationships that form our community. As I have mentioned before, camp is an intentionally constructed community staffed by a group of well-trained, caring adult role models who know the importance of compassion, resilience, and contribution. Instead of competition, we applaud communication and cooperation. Instead of insecurities and self-doubt, we inject genuine encouragement. Instead of being left out or ignored, girls here find a place of listening, respect, and care.”

That kind of attitude right there is what made me more than OK with sending my Cuties off and knowing they were going to have an amazing summer.

farewellpic

{grimaces are from looking into the sun ~ they were nothing but smiles, I promise!}

Learning to water ski, reach the top of the climbing wall, throw a wheel in pottery and the art of sneaking a full tray of Rice Krispie treats from the kitchen are all just icing on the cake!

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 And I titled this post “It Was Quite a Day” because it was.  After I dropped the Cuties off at the camp bus, I headed to the airport.

The same Chicago airport I had arrived at the day before.  I returned my rental car, walked in and looked at the departing flights.  And promptly saw none to my destination city.  At which point it occurred to me to reach in my bag and look at my confirmation print out.

Which had my flying out of the other airport in Chicago.

GULP.

The rental car company would not let me take my car back, despite it literally being right where I had left it 90 seconds prior, with the keys in it because – and I quote – they had already issued a receipt.

So I rushed to the terminal, hoping to catch the shuttle bus, only to find out it had just left.  So I hopped in a pricey taxi, rushed in, checked my bag, tapped my foot anxiously while watching the people in security in front of me try and send through bottles of water and made it to my gate at the right airport in the nick of time.

Only to board the plane and sit on the runway for over an hour!

It was definitely a distraction from missing my Cuties, that’s for sure :-)

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We Should All Come Back as The Cuties

I never doubted our kids led a good life.

But to recap…

Big and Little Cutie skied for the first time in Nagano, Japan.

victory

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

You know, where they held the Olympics.  That Nagano.

I learned to ski for the first time on a little mountain hill in West Virginia.

And today, Big Cutie played her first nine holes of golf.

golf

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At the same resort where the PGA Championship was held last year.  That PGA.

I first played golf on a public course with no carts.

Dear Mom and Dad ~ I’ve never learned how to sail a catamaran.  I think there’s still time to have at least one experience that surpasses that of my daughters!  You know where to find me.  Love, Your Eldest Daughter :-)

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News from The Happy Place

The Cuties and I have been Stateside for about two weeks now.

It took almost 24 hours from the time we started our journey in Tokyo until we dropped our suitcases at The Happy Place, AKA Kiawah Island, South Carolina.

And it was worth every minute of it.

I start each day with breakfast on the porch, and this view ~

lagoon

We’ve met our new neighbor, and have agreed to coexist peacefully ~

gator

I’ve drunk an Arnold Palmer every single day ~

arnold palmer

Every day the weather has been nice has found us either at one of the pools ~

turtlefloat

or boogie boarding and sand castle-building at the beach {this week we had cousins join us!} ~

beach

We had one set of grandparents come visit ~

oceancourse

Big Cutie once again beat me in our annual pecan pie-eating contest ~

pecanpie

Little Cutie got to pet a baby gator ~

babygator

We met the most talented balloon artist ever!

ballons

The Cuties spotted a dozen dolphins on their Poppy’s boat ~

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While I claimed my favorite napping spot of the past two decades ~

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We’ve been to the Lilly store.  Twice.

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And all the grandchildren had a slumber party with Grammy & Poppy.

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The best part of all is that DADDY ARRIVES tomorrow from Tokyo and will get to spend time with us at The Happy Place!!!  Which automatically makes it The Extra-Happy Place for me and The Cuties.

Although I will confess, the car rental’s little mistake and failing to have my basic SUV and offering me this instead at my Priceline rate to drive around in kinda made things a little Happier as well! :-)

rentalcar

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