Projects with Personality

I have always loved needlepointed items whenever I spied them in a store: belts, key fobs, pillows ~ you name it.  The combination of beautiful handicrafts and a dash of preppiness really speaks my language!

My first needlepoint projects were toddler-sized belts for The Cuties that we all loved and eeked every last bit of wear until they were practically cutting off their circulation.

I adored that I could slip my work into my purse and work on it in the car, during a meeting, on planes or while I watched television.

The biggest project I’ve tackled to date was a zippered pouch for Big Cutie’s tallit {prayer shawl} for her Bat Mitzvah.  And this month I picked up the tallit bag I finished for Little Cutie’s upcoming Bat Mitzvah.  She helped me pick out the pattern and we adjusted colors as we wanted.  She has very strong opinions, that one!


These are labors of love, and I adore imagining my girls having them forever more or passing them on to their daughters some day.


And just in case it should ever be left at synagogue…..


As I was tucking the bag away where we keep the rest of the family’s I was struck by how perfectly each daughter’s bag she chose is a reflection of her personality.  Little Cutie is carefree and likes things a little less structured than her sister.  Big Cutie prefers symmetry and pattern in her design aesthetic {gee, sound like anyone you know?}:


They’ve both made this clear for as long as we can remember.

So when I had their bags side by side, I was reminded of this particular picture, taken many years ago, when they each spent an afternoon building a house out of Legos…

lego houses

Care to take a guess which Cutie built which house? 😉

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Shower Shelving

Our master bathroom is a little sad.

It likely last saw upgrades and renovation around the time I was 10 years old, which means it’s middle-aged, wrinkled and need of a make over.

However, it’s taking a back burner in the budget since we just put a new roof on the house this Spring.  Which is really just about the most boring and grown up way to spend money on house renovations there is.  It’s not like anyone comes over and ever wants to check out your new chimney flashing, know what I mean?!

So we’re making do, which is more than fine.

But I thought I’d share with you what was an interim fix (now longterm) that has turned out to be a very practical solution to our shower situation.  The master shower was replaced with one of those inserts somewhere down the line by a previous owner.


Don’t you just love that beige faux marble look?  Is my sarcasm reaching through your device and engulfing you completely?!

The biggest problem with the shower insert is that there’s no deep recessed shelving like a custom tile shower would have or a significant ledge like a bathtub would have.  Just a tiny little corner nook that’s almost worthless.  So nowhere for larger bottles of shampoo and conditioner to live without being on the floor, and nowhere to rest my foot when shaving my legs.  Like my shower stall, I’m old and tired and would prefer not to constantly bend over or squat while in the shower.

In Japan there were small plastic seats sold everywhere, but that didn’t really thrill me.  And my parents often had a teak stool but those died after a short period of time.

So my simple solution that has lasted more than a year now?

A ceramic garden stool!

No rust, no mold, no fuss!


When we get around to renovating the bathroom someday, this can easily be repurposed out to the patio or pool and still have life.


Meanwhile, I’m no longer performing Cirque du Soleil feats of balance to shave my legs in the shower.  Because nobody wants that.

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Ready for Summer Fun

The pool is open and we are getting ready to head to the beach soon.


The Cuties are really into inflatables lately: donuts, pizzas, lounges ~ you name it.  We even keep a giant alligator and a sea turtle big enough for both of them down in Kiawah at the Happy Place!  But sometimes they like to go Old School with a ring float, so I grabbed a few at the drug store this week.


{These run $2.99 ~ you don’t need anything nicer since this kind of float seems to only last one season}

Spread the float out and take a King Sized Sharpie and start lettering.


Once you inflate the float, you may need to go over the lettering one more time to darken the thicker lines a bit.

Clearly The Cuties’ floats won’t be accidentally picked up by anyone else at the pool or beach this summer!



Clearly, nothing in our house is safe from Sharpies!

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Why I Periodically Ghost

Do y’all know the term “Ghosting?’

It’s used mostly to refer to when people are dating and one person suddenly ceases communication with the other without any explanation or contact in any way.  It’s highly obnoxious and rude.

Dear Readers, I have Ghosted on you several times in the past year and it’s time to come clean with why.  It’s not you, it’s me, I promise.  Sorry, folks!

When we first moved back to America in the fall of 2014, we were in a state of limbo.  We were in our corporate apartment while house hunting for several months, The Cuties were getting settled in two new schools and The Husband was figuring out what he was going to do exactly back at his old company.  By the end of winter, we’d closed on The New Old House, and were committed to renovating.  The Cuties were not only settled at their new schools, but they were thriving.  Not a small statement to make with a tween and teen.

But there was a lot of flux going on at The Husband’s job and some new opportunities on the horizon.  And after a lot of conversation, soul-searching and wine, we made the decision for him to take a terrific job out of state during the work week, and The Cuties and I would stay here in Connecticut.  He makes it back every weekend, and is the best about Face Timing for challenging Algebra homework with one Cutie while I’m cooking dinner and discussing the day’s events with the other Cutie.  And when the weekend comes he’s completely present and we have complete and total Family Time, which has been fantastic.

So generally speaking, we’ve settled into our New Normal, and are in the groove.

Most of the time.

And then sometimes I’m not.

Like the end of the school year crunch when there’s been concerts, plays, assemblies, rehearsals, extra PTA meetings, greater need for volunteers, final exams, and a few other special events in our lives.  And there were more days than not where we ate take out, barely had clean underwear, the gas gauge was dinging at me, and blogging was clearly the last thing there was an iota of energy left for.

But I miss it.  I miss writing, photographing and thinking of projects.  I miss this small little part of my week that I do simply because I want to.  And so I will try to do better, Ghost a little less and find my groove again.

But if I disappear for a while again, be patient ~ I’m just slightly crazy, but I’ll be back.

Posted in Ordinary Days I Love | 2 Comments

Curb Appeal

So many things with the New Old House have been triage; simply getting to the thing on the list that is currently in need of the most help at the moment.

When we moved in last year, there were a number of things that we didn’t care for with regard to the front of our house.  The front door and trim were painted the exact same red as the brick {while the shutters were black} and the front walk lighting was overkill and didn’t work.  The landscaping was double trouble problematic in that it was so overgrown it blocked all the downstairs windows and had enormous Burning Bushes in front of the Rhododendrons.  The lantern over the door was too small and the doorbell didn’t work.  And if we were really being realistic, we hated how the roof color was nearly the same color as the brick.  But let’s be honest, I never entertained the idea that we would consider changing the roof color!


So we started with the easiest project and painted the front door and trim black to match the shutters.  And we polished up the beautiful original lion door knocker and were suddenly so much happier.


We had the Burning Bushes ripped out, the Rhododendrums pruned, and rose bushes and hydrangeas planted.  Our dining room and living room instantly became twice as bright!

I still haven’t found the right lantern, and I’m working with my electrician on replacing the walkway lights this month, so we’re making progress, slowly but surely. But things are blooming, and you can actually see my house which is great improvement.

And then when the snow melted early this Spring, we noticed a teeny tiny leak in ceiling of our bedroom.  Are all of you that are home owners cringing right now?

And the roofers came out, looked at it, and pretty much said the roof was shot and need to be replaced.  And while The Husband saw only dollar signs flying away, I saw visions of the bathroom renovations we’d been discussing literally washing down the drain.  But in our quest for a silver lining in all that is sucktastic in life, we found one!


In the shingle color Pewter Gray.

Because we actually got to change the color of the roof after all.

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New Craft Room Space

I’d love to tell you I’ve been off training for a marathon or researching a cure for cancer, but my absence of late can simply be attributed to an abundance of volunteer commitments, Grandparents in town, and binge-watching House of Cards.

I’m deep, I know. 😉

But I have been making slow, but sure progress on the smallest, but one of the most frequently used rooms in our house.  It’s about a 10′ x 15′ all-season sunroom off the Living Room.  The sellers used it as an office, and when we first saw the space from the listing below, we thought it would make a quaint little library.

Sitting room, office or library

I envisioned club chairs and perfectly staged bookshelves where The Husband and I could read The New York Times together on the weekends while snow fell outside.  Clearly, I’ve bought the Connecticut Dream, hook, line and sinker.

So we set it up, and it was a lovely little room.

To look at.

Since we never actually used it.

Because we used both the Living Room and the Family Room all the time, and that was clearly more than enough for just four people.  As much as we are big readers, we just didn’t need a third space dedicated to books and chairs.

But you know what we did need?

A space dedicated to homework, crafts and projects.

As beautiful as the Kitchen Renovation Project turned out, because we don’t have an eat-in kitchen, there’s not table space at which to work on school projects.  And while we use our Dining Room daily, we need that space for meals, and therefore, leaving my sewing machine or a math poster out, just isn’t practical.

So it occurred to me this small room had amazing potential to serve many purposes for The Cuties and me, and we got to work.  We’ve updated the hardware, tossed the ancient mini blinds, repaired damage to the beautiful shiplap {check me out, Chip & Joanna!} and gave the whole place a fresh coat of paint.  I wish I had taken before shots of the light fixtures, but let me just say that track lighting was involved – on the wall – in almond.  And the sconces got worse from there.

from the Living Room~

{and yes! that’s a door, so when a project is completely in medias res, we can simply closed the door and hide the mess!}


Our work space ~ this table is on casters, so when a project is bigger than the table or we want to spread out on the floor, we can just push the table off to the side.


Printer, file cabinet and storage for wrapping and large washi paper.  And how many different spaces {and houses!} do you think that Pottery Barn Moss Initial Hack has appeared in this blog now?


This narrow bookcase holds all of my machines: scanner, Silhouette Cameo, sewing machine, embroidery machine and my cameras.  I love having everything so easily accessible.


Here’s my tiny little desk area.  It’s just enough space for my laptop, my project notebooks, and my calendar.  We’ve yet to figure out what those small cabinet doors were originally used for, but now they hold poster board, gift bags, and the largest one stores our extra leaves for the dining room table down the hall.


And here’s all my happy.

I love that everything is bright and colorful and labeled for easy identification.  The Cuties can find whatever it is they need, and just as important ~ can put things away exactly where they belong.  Things we use most frequently are out on the shelves, and my fabric stash, extra office supplies, and less-used crafting items are stored in the lower cabinets.



{I keep trying to convince The Husband that since there’s still space left in those 1.5 gallon jars, clearly there’s room to buy more washi tape!}






In addition to being incredibly practical, this room was done on a budget.  I shopped the house for containers and repurposed everything and anything I could find.  I made reusable vinyl chalkboard labels with my Silhouette machine, and the round wood and chalk tags are from the Bullseye Shop at Target.  To better coordinate with the new lighting, I sprayed the pulls and jar lids with gold spray paint.


The light in this room is one of the best features.

This photograph was taken without a flash on a rainy afternoon without the lights.  Underground. 😉

I kid, I kid.

If you need me, guess where you can find me.

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Egg Muffins

 In the Felt So Cute household, we like eggs and eat them as many ways as possible.

I made these again the other morning and Little Cutie’s immediate comment was that I really needed to make them all the time.  Since she is the least interested in eggs in our house, that was high praise!


Start with spraying a silicone muffin pan with cooking spray.  You can find these at any kitchen supply store, or they are also on Amazon.  I always place mine on a cookie sheet for two reasons: one, it makes handling the flexible silicone pan easier, and two, just in case of spillage, it will contain your mess!


Chop up whatever filling you wish for your muffins.  The appeal of this breakfast is much like bento lunch-making was when The Cuties were in preschool: I could use up all sorts of random leftovers in a productive way!  So not all your muffins have to be the same.  I had two leftover Baby Bella mushrooms, a few chicken and sage sausage links and a part of a leek.  Toss a bit of shredded cheese over your toppings {or you can simply do egg and cheese muffins if you wish}.  Clearly I don’t measure anything, but you’re looking to fill each cup just over halfway.


Then whisk 6-8 eggs {depends on the size of your muffin pan}, a generous splash of milk, salt and pepper together.  I find it best to use a mixing bowl/cup with a spout and handle.

mixingbowlPour your egg mixture into the muffin cups, filling about two-thirds of the way full.  Use a small spoon to lightly stir each one to mix everything up.

Bake at 350 degrees for about twenty minutes.  I chop up my ingredients at night, and then I can have these in the oven in five minutes in the morning while everyone is getting ready for school.

The silicone pan will allow you to easily pop the muffins right out for eating!

bakedmuffinsSo…….you may be tempted to make these on Convection Bake if your oven has such a setting in an effort to cook them faster.  It will not work.  They may over-inflate.  They may explode.  Not that I know anything about that….

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Travel Medicine Bag

While I’m still unpacking from Spring Break, I’ll share some more hints.

I promise I don’t pack the entire kitchen sink when I travel, but one of the things I do always pack is a small medicine bag when we travel.  This is especially important in foreign countries where not everything we are used to will be as accessible as I’d like.

The #1 most important thing to pack are your daily prescription medications {duh!}.  These, should always go in your carry on bag.  If your luggage is lost, you can make do in the same clothing for days, but necessary medication can’t always be easily replaced.  For trips of any length, The Husband and I each have one of these cases that can hold up to two weeks of pills.


In my suitcase, I use a small pouch into which I’ve managed to cram a lot.  I use this particular bag because it happens to be lined in plastic so it can be wiped in case of spills.


Here’s what I carry inside:

NyQuil {don’t forget a spoon!}


Tylenol & Advil {Advil works better for our family, but I can’t take it, so that’s why we double up on pain reliever}


Blister Cushions

Antibiotic Ointment



Cough Drops


There’s also a prescription bottle there; ever since I had Shingles, I carry a dose of antivirals with me just in case I wake up with a rash again and am traveling.  I know there are several other conditions that merit immediate attention, so if you happen to fall into this category, it’s a good idea to ask your doctor for a “just in case” prescription when traveling out of the country.

Murphy’s Law says that if you bother to pack a bag like this you’ll never have to touch it and if you don’t, someone will wake up with a hacking cough the first morning of a trip you decided to all pile into one room!

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Things To Do Pre-Vacation

Today I’m going to share my Pre-Trip To Do List with you.

You’re not remotely surprised I have a list for that, are you?

  1. Print a copy of your travel documents. I know we know live in a paperless world, but we’ve all encountered Wifi-free moments when pulling up our email reservations hasn’t been easy.  And if you’re traveling internationally, you may experience even more challenges with international cellular service.  This is one of those things you may not always need, but when you do, it’s really helpful to have.  I often consolidate things like flight details and confirmation numbers, hotel reservation information, etc. into one document, print it and stash it in a pocket of my carry on.

2. Scan in a copy of your passports {and visas, if applicable}. Then save them to a password-protected file that you can access.  If you ever lose your passports, having copies of them will help expedite the process to get new ones while abroad.

3. Charge all your electronics and remember to pack the chargers and adaptors.  I am notorious for forgetting to pack one important charger.  It’s a major bummer.  Don’t be like me.  I usually have these on my list a few times, and then a neon post-it note on the door to avoid this catastrophe.  Clearly, I’m scarred for life from that one trip to Vail where I forgot the camera charger more than eleven years ago!

4. Arrange for someone to manage your garbage. Leaving your trash barrels outside overnight are an easy way to let people know you aren’t at home, so you don’t want to put them out early or have them sitting there longer than usual.  Since it’s also on my To Do List to run around the house and empty the trash cans before we leave, you don’t want full barrels sitting extra long to smell or attract critters.  This is a great job to offer up to young, responsible neighbor kids.

5. Arrange for someone to manage your mail and packages. If you don’t have a mail slot on your door, ask a neighbor or friend to come gather your mail and any packages that may be dropped off while you are gone.  If you’re going to be gone a week or more, it may be worth putting a hold on your mail at the Post Office.  Again, don’t advertise that you are away from home!

6. Stop your newspaper(s). If you still get a delivered newspaper, this is easy to take care of online and simply suspend your home delivery while you are out-of-town.  Notice a theme to my not advertising your absence yet?

7. Set your alarm! Seems easy enough, but my alarm company guy once told me that more than half his clients never use their alarm service.  It won’t help protect your home if you don’t activate it.

8. Set a timer or leave a few lights on. I swear I’m not paranoid with all these safety tips, but your home is the most expensive thing you own, right {well you and the bank, most likely}, so a few precautions seems reasonable!

9. Clean out your refrigerator of any perishable items. If you keep fruit out on your counter or bread in a bread box, check those areas, too!  You don’t want to come home to rotten or moldy foods ~ or worse, fruit flies in your kitchen!

10. Set up water globes for your plants. Don’t I sound like I know what I’m talking about?  I, of course, have the blackest thumb in the universe and all plants wither in horror in my mere presence, but I acknowledge that most people have live plants in their homes.  Keeping that in mind, if you are leaving for a week or more, you want to set up some way of watering them while you are gone.

11. If you’re headed out on a road trip, be sure you’ve checked out your car.  Do some basic inspecting of your vehicle: oil, fluids, gas, tire pressure, etc.  Clean it out of all the empty water bottles, goldfish crumbs, and random things that might have accumulated while you’ve been busy living your life.  While I’m sure you’re on top of things to entertain the kids while on the road, remember to pack a “car bag” for the unexpected: cleaning supplies for a bout of carsickness, wipes for sticky hands, etc.

12. Make beds and leave a tidy house. I know this can seem daunting after packing a whole family up to leave on a big adventure, but it’s worth it when you return and are jet lagged and still have to unpack and face a pile of laundry.  We arrived home late tonight from Spring Break adventures.  It was almost 24 hours from the time we left our hotel to the time we walked back in the door.  It was so nice to walk in to a clean house and just have to take showers, and not worry about much more.  Mostly because I’m too groggy to do anything else!  I promise it’s worth the effort.

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Teen Airplane Bags

It’s almost Spring Break and that means we are off on an adventure!

The Cuties are truly self-sufficient and amazing international travelers; they schlep their own bags, they entertain themselves in flight, and they manage their own gear.

I do NOT miss the days of the airplane diaper bag bigger than my toddler or performing barf bag puppet theatre.

When I was at the drug store this week picking up a few items for my own travel bag I grabbed some things for them and decided to put together new bags for their carry ons. I found the perfect cases at Bullseye’s Playground at Target {what they used to call the Dollar Spot}.  They’re plastic and cheap, which are pretty much my requirements for things used on airplanes by tweens or teens since there’s a reasonable chance things may explode inside or even be left behind by accident.

I first added each of their names with my Silhouette machine and coordinating vinyl



Then I filled it with some essentials for a long flight:





chewing gum

breath mints

hand cream

Shout wipes


toothbrush & toothpaste

dental picks

spare disposable contact lenses

nail file


There’s still plenty of room in these bags to add in things like glasses and retainers in the morning before we head to the airport.

One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned in my years of traveling with children is to corral their crap stuff on airplanes, and to keep the number of things you all need to be responsible for to a minimum when jet lag is involved.  Trust me.  Everyone starts off all pleasant and cute and charming, but 16 hours after you left the house in the morning and people don’t remember their names, let alone what they brought on the airplane!

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