Celebrating a Colorful Life

Lilly Pulitzer, the barefoot princess

Yesterday, at the age of 81, Lilly Pulitzer Rousseau passed away at her Palm Beach home.
In the late 1950s, Lilly found she had too much spare time on her hands and her husband owned citrus groves. So she decided to open a little juice stand. Needing to hide all the juice stains on her clothes, she asked her seamstress to make some sleeveless dresses in colorful fruit prints, and a fashion staple was born, the Lilly Shift. Soon she would build a colorful clothing empire with bright, colorful, happy colors and prints that would be worn, adored and collected by many. Lilly Pulitzer, the name is synonymous with Palm Beach, society, a good life, ocean breezes and preppy culture

Lilly believed that "Style isn't just about what you wear, it's about how you live," Pulitzer told Vanity Fair in 2004. "We focus on the best, fun and happy things, and people want that. Being happy never goes out of style," she told Vanity Fair.

Unforgettable Palm Beach: Early PB rife with female business leaders, activists

Jacquie Kennedy attended Miss Porter's with Lilly, and was often photographed in the colorful shifs
Rose Kennedy was a fan of the shift as well

Lilly Pulitzer, Palm Beach

Lilly Pulitzer peeking out of her store window, the store is now C. Orrico

Lilly jumping out of a plane with swatches of her fabric

Lilly in her Worth Avenue Store in Palm Beach

Lilly, barefoot of course, at one of her parties!

This photo, featuring Whitneys and Vanderbilts, inspired Lilly's 50th Anniversary print
1075 Ad
a Monokini for the Mini Lilly
from the 1967 catalogue

A 1978 ad

Farewell Lilly, thank you for making our world a more colorful place!


Lilly Pulitzer would so not have approved of this...

Recently I came across this dress. I thought it was some terrible Lilly knock off. After all, the real Lilly Pulitzer would never have created this. And she certainly would never have approved. I get that the company is taking off, trying new things, edgier and trendier, and some of their new styles and designs are pretty fabulous. But this one completely missed the mark. The dress is confused. I am confused. Is this an evening dress or a daytime dress? The faux diamonds seem to suggest evening wear yet the simple shift style and pastel colors paired with the playful print seem to suggest daytime wear... a dress to wear to lunch or shopping or late afternoon cocktails at the beach club. I can't imagine this dress in Newport, the Hamptons, Lake Forest or Palm Beach. I really can't imagine this dress anywhere!

Take a closer look...

Look closely. It's just wrong. It's all wrong... The top does not go with the rest of the dress. I'm reminded of a skating dress. A bad one at that. Seriously, do any of you remember the skater Tanya Harding? She was the Bad Girl on the ice who was always trying to keep up with the beautiful Nancy Kerrigan. Nancy brought Vera Wang on to the ice. Nancy would have been a Lilly girl. Tanya would have been this monstrosity. Sorry Lilly. This dress is more trashy than classy.

What do you think?

Ps. Lilly P is not dead. Several have asked me. But I don't believe she sees all that transpires at the Co w her name on it.

Angela Moore Fashion Show Recap and a Jack Rogers Giveaway!

Cynthia Bogart, Jessica Gordon Ryan, Gretchen Aubuchon at The International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, RI

I just knew it was going to be a good day the moment I saw these upon entering the tent. Pink champagne for breakfast. I'll drink to that! Cheers!

image via Angela Moore

Gretchen, Cynthia and I are enjoying our front row (!!) seats and a fabulous breakfast and event put on by Angela Moore to benefit the International Tennis Hall of Fame

Dee Gordon in Lilly Pulitzer
Photo via Angela Moore

Lilly Pulitzer was many of the prolifically fun and preppy brands to grace the catwalk. Isn't this model lovely? I'm proud to say she's my aunt and she totally rocked that cat walk!

Dee Gordon
Here she is... rocking jeggings, white jeggings no less!

Karen and Grace Megdley
via John Corbett/Angela Moore

I met Karen at the Angela Moore booth at the Newport Flower Show. I fell madly in love with the pink Angela Moore dress she was wearing. She was helpful and lovely and a total sweetheart and she stopped and smiled at me in recognition when she saw me seated at my table by the stage... in the same pink dress! Our hearys simply melted when we saw adorable daughter modeling the Angela Moore Tammi tunic (with white Jack Rogers.) Karen's beauty is undeniable... but that adorable daughter of hers stole my heart!

Angela Moore and two tennis pros wearing shirts by Three Islands
via John Corbett

all the Angela Moore models via John Corbett

Angela Moore was founded in 1997. She has stores in Palm Beach, FL and Newport, RI. In 1998 she introduced her hand painted jewelry, resort wear and accent pieces for the home.

Angela Moore's philosophy is to "celebrate your own individual style with colors and themes that make you happy"

Please visit their website here.

image via Angela Moore

image via Angela Moore
Above, the now widely popular hand painted beads can be found on their hair ties in a wide array of colors and patterns.

What I liked best about the show was getting introduced to new brands and products. The Entertaining House is not a shopping blog. It never was and it never will be, but as a lifestyle blog it is my pleasure to share with you the wonderful new things that I have stumbled upon. The following fashions and accessories are fun and fresh and won't break the bank!

Note: The items below were not necessarily in the fashion show, but they represent the brands highlighted.
Big Buddha Bag

The bags by Bosom Buddies were spectacular. To die for. I wanted each and every one of them.
Bosom Buddies Handbags

Bosom Buddies Handbags

Starfish Sandal by Hot in Hollywood
If you are a regular reader of my blog you know that my go to summer shoes are my Jack Rogers. There simply is no other (in my book). While my heart will always belong to Jack, my heart couldn't help but pitter-patter a little a lot a little when I saw these starfish sandals by Hot in Hollywood. (I feel really guilty... as though I have betrayed Jack... but Jack, I want you to know that I only looked, I never cheated! xoxo)

I was mad about this dress by Tracy Negotian. The colors and patterns (below) are fun and vibrant.

The dress is available in other fun and whimsical prints and patterns.

patterns by Tracy Negoshian

Men's shirts by Three Islands
The Three Island men's shirts were bright and fun and offered a nice preppy alternative to the Vineyard Vines and Brooks Brothers staples. Be sure to check out their sight as they have a wonderful selection of tunics and dresses for women as well. (And the price points are right on!)

Many of the models carried small bags and clutches by Moyna. They were fun and whimsical and unique. The accessory girl that I am, I wanted every bag I saw. (The two below were not featured in the fashion show but aren't they divine?

Evening clutches by Moyna, New York

Seeing as Newport is a beachy, resort community many of the men models wore bathing suits. These Strong Boalt suits were handsome and fun and certainly caused a splash!

Men's Swim trunks by Palm Beach based Strong Bolt

Many of the models, women and children, wore lovely straw hats by Toucan. Elegant and stately these beautiful hats easily make the transition from beach to polo to cocktails on the back lawn.
Toucan Hat

I would like to thank Nicole Hawkins of Angela Moore for our fabulous table and for answering my many, many questions!

and, finally, what you've all been waiting for a Weekend Wanderlust Contest sponsored by Jack Rogers and Assouline! Visit the Jack Rogers Facebook Page for more information!

Be sure to visit The Daily Basics, Gretchen Aubuchon Design and Newport Stylephile (from whom I borrowed a few of these pictures) for more on the Angela Moore Fashion Show to benefit The International Tennis Hall of Fame

Designer threads, treads and wheels...

Spring is finally in the air! While it's still cool in Connecticut, the sun is up early, the birds are singing melodically, the tiny buds on our trees are starting to bloom, little flowers are starting to sprout and I've already broken out my white jeans.

It's perfect bike-riding weather and I live in a perfect bike-riding town! It's too bad I'm in between bicycles these days... Perhaps we should go on a virtual bicycle shopping spree! Perhaps we should pretend that money is not important or relevant here. After all, this is my little fantasy... which of these fancy-fabulous wheels would I pick?

Fendi Bicycle

Gucci Bicycle

Kate Spade Bicycle

Chanel Bicycle

detail from Hermes Bicycle
Lilly Pulitzer Bicycle

Ok, some of those are a little ostentatious even for me. Hands down I pick the green Kate Spade bike! I think it needs a little basket in the front...

There we go... a nice Nantucket basket for the front... In it I would leave room for a bottle of water, and some fresh flowers, lettuce and other goodies from our delightful farm down the road...

That's more like it! Still, something is missing...

Oh yes. This is much better! N'est ce pas?

But I think Fifi Flowers has the best idea!

Cheers and Happy Riding everyone! Anyone care to join me? Alice, you can ride the pink one next time you are in my neck of the woods. I'll bring the baguette and the bubbly!


Eye Candy!

or is it foot candy?
whatever it is I can not just stop at one!

The name, Jack Rogers, is synonymous with summer and the preppy life. The original and (in my humble opinion) the only Navajo sandal is a staple in my Spring and Summer wardrobe. As likely as you'll see me with a glass of wine at the end of the day, you'll see me in my Jack Rogers as soon as the weather allows me to! I've had many pairs over the years... many have been worn and loved and sadly tossed. Some staples have been replaced and others have made way for newer colors and styles. Read my post here about the love and loss of my favorite white jeweled pair. (It was rather dramatic!)

Well, and I should not be sharing this since it'll ruin my chances of winning... but if you friend Jack Rogers on Facebook you could win a pair of golden Navajos... and if you win I might just have to break down your front door!

and YOU could be the winner of these!

a summer staple...
a classic Navajo which pairs perfectly
with the many wonderful dresses we have at JmcLaughlin!

And if you're a Lilly fan, these are a must have

Jewelled Navajos... in metallics
Perfect with a little sun dress, a little black dress, shorts or a pair of jeans...
Do you see my name on them?!


For real... they're back?!!
My most favoritest Jack Roger sandals E-VER!
and Yippee they are mine mine mine!!!

A Prep School 101 Summer

I discovered Jennifer's blog, Prep School 101, about a year ago. It quickly grew to be one of my favorites.  I was like a kid in a (Preppy) candy store as I drooled over her beautiful photographs of lavish and opulent goodies that reflected a fun and preppy lifestyle. I was saddened, however, when last fall she decided to close her blog so that she could concentrate more on her business Sky Blue Events. While I was happy (for her!) that her business was growing successfully, and while I followed her business blog I missed Prep School 101 terribly. I told her so and nagged her a few dozen times, easily, to bring back the other blog. We communicated through the year, via emails and Twitter and became good friends. I am a staunch supporter of her projects as she is of mine. I was thrilled when a couple of months ago she told me that she was bringing Prep School 101 back to life! So, please visit her blog and welcome her back after you read her guest post!

In the spirit of “the more things change, the more things stay the same,” I bring you a list of my summer essentials, many of which I’m truly grateful do not change year after year (or season after season, for that matter). After all, a classic is a classic is a classic.

The obvious preppy favorites: 

(1) Seersucker

(2) Aviators

(3) Driving loafers

(4) Pearl earrings

(5) Lacoste polos

(6) Lilly dresses

(7) G&Ts and garden parties

(8) Fitzgerald, Hemingway

(9) Rosebud Salve

(10) Jack Rogers

This summer’s new favorite and frothy additions:

(1) Tad Friend’s Cheerful Money: Me, My Family and the last Days of WASP Splendor

(2)  Kiel James Patrick bracelets, preferably in madras.

(3) True Prep by Lisa Birnbaum. I scored an advance copy since these will be in the goody bags at a party my company is hosting in September. If you’re on the East Coast and feel like a delightful trip to Baltimore for an end of the summer celebration on the water, please come to our Oxfords & Oysters soiree (details on my company blog: http://blog.skyblue-events.com/oxfords-oysters/).

Come say hello....I’ll be the one wearing some combination of the above listed items.

Above, the beautiful Jennifer in Lilly, then and now!

In the Slim with Lilly (and Rebecca!)

It was closing ceremonies at school today. And Alexander graduated from preschool into Kindergarten. Since it was chilly this morning I wanted to look nice but and summery but still be warm so I broke out my Lilly in the Slim pants... paired them with a pink sweater and my new JRs...

Love these pants... they make me so happy!

and they could not be more perfect with my fuchsia crock sandals!

and Rebecca too!

and be sure to watch the Lilly Retrospective in the post below!

Get your pearls on girls! (More dorky pictures!)

It's been a CRAZY week... non-stop, frantic, frenetic... today is the end of the weekday madness but enter weekend madness tomorrow. It's Grandparent's Day at the children's school and since May Day fell on a Saturday, the children will all participate in the May Day celebration and Assembly. Rebecca wanted me to wear Lilly since she is wearing a Lilly Original shift... I went up to the attic last night and pulled down all that I could find... some are missing... hmmm... Anyhow, I chose to wear my favorite skirt. I have no idea what the pattern is called. Is it Party Animal? Does anyone know? It's over 10 years old. It was too big and there were no others to be found so I bought it and had it tailored hence the longer length. That's why I have chosen it today. My legs are still too pasty and flabby for the shorter Lillies! (Arm is still very limited in motion and so I cannot apply self tanner!)

Rebecca wanted me to wear my Lillies original bag with my outfit... I don't know... I think it is a bit much... even for me! Pearl are on... need new sandals. Pink JRs gave way last year and I will replace them shortly. Meantime I just have the white jeweled ones...

Off with her head! lol

(Sweater JmcLaughlin... another favorite!)

These bracelets go nicely...

a bit much... but Rebecca really wants me too...

never fully dressed without my pearls!

A Vision in white...

Perhaps it's been the warm weather, the sunshine, the feeling that Winter is finally coming to an end... perhaps I'm sick of all my winter clothes... perhaps it's a combination of the two... but suddenly I find myself loving and needing some more white in my life. I know we're supposed to wait until Memorial Day to break out the whites but I can still dream of white sandy beaches, little white dresses and sandals... summery white rooms with windows cracked open and warm sunny breezes...

It's not too early to start wearing white watches...
while my eyes love this Chopard beauty my bank account says No way Jose!

This Emporio Armani watch has a classic yet modern look for just $195

I love this fun ring from Banana Republic for around $30

Trade the black sunnies for a summery pair!

My favorite white jewelry... real, faux, large, small... pearls are simply perfection in white!

Lighten up your tables with this lovely Emma dinnerware from Pottery Barn

This white hemstitched linen runner from Williams Sonoma really brightens a room and your spirit!

White bedding... I'm not one for busy, distracting prints. I need simple, white, clean, crisp bedding.

White bedding lightens a room and brings the Sprintime in even when the weather is still crisp.
I just want to crawl into this bed!

This all white bedroom evokes a beachy, summery and very relaxing feel.

This Seabury Armchair by Pottery Barn adds an instant summer touch to a sitting room,
living room or bedroom

I love white kitchens with a country charm -- with old world charm and modern convenience.
(With young children I am not yet ready for an all white kitchen, especially with white floors! But I do love it!)

Open up the doors and let the sun shine in! This is my dream kitchen!

More country charm with modern convenience

Looking to upgrade your oven in white?
This LaCornue Stove from Williams Sonoma is available for a mere $9,000!

If you're like me this white Cuisinart mini prep is more your speed!
It is one of my most used appliances! A best buy for sure. This is the best $30 I have ever spent!

Since we're in the kitchen... a perfect white food goes with...

A perfect white drink!

And this is my perfect white indulgence!

A simple white bouquet of tulips lightens any room!

I love white lilies... on the dresser in my bedroom... with the windows open and the curtains swaying slightly from the gentle breezes... their aroma carried through is sheer floral perfection!

White hydrangea... simple yet elegant... casual and formal... these too are a favorite of mine!

Soon we'll be pulling out whites out of storage... crisp and clean I love white pants!

I'll wear my summery white pants with these white Navajo Sandals from Jack Rogers, $96 Nordstroms

But if the economy has forced you to be more frugal with your purchases run (and I do mean run!) over to Target and pick up their version by Mossimo. At just $19.99 you can pick them up in an array of colors.
I picked up a pair last week and give them two thumbs up! You'll feel a difference as the sole is man-made, but they are tres comfortable indeed!

Please girls, put those hideous shaper-sneaker things ah-way... for like forever...
These classic sandals by Dr. Scholls are the Original Exercise Shoe, and so much cuter!

Every summer I refresh my white T collection, a staple in my summer wardrobe...
I wear them with Lilly skirts, light flowy skirts and capris. This classic T,  from Banana Republic, is a must!

This Shayna dress by Lilly Pulitzer is the perfect afternoon cocktail dress!
(I must have this!)

At the end of the day, all grimy from sand and sunscreen, I need to clean and luxuriate in my bath. A summery bath with large windows to let the late afternoon sun shine in is the perfect way to end the afternoon.
(I'd put a tray on that chair for my glass of favorite white drink!)

Summer is almost here and soon our dreams will become realities!

Lilly, Liberty (of London) and the Pursuit of Happiness!

In the 1980s Laura Ashley and Liberty of London were synonymous with Preppy Fashion on both sides of  The Pond. While Preppy is an American term our British Preppies are known as Sloane Rangers. This term is derived from the elite, classic, classy (Preppy) shops located in London's tony Sloane Square. The bright florals of Laura Ashley and Liberty were very popular amongst the Sloane/Preppy crowd on both sides of the Atlantic. Sadly, the Laura Ashley as we knew it is no longer. I have many old dresses hanging in my Newport closet with big poofy sleeves and big puffy collars! (A look best to remain back with big 80s poofy hair!) I had cotton dresses and velvet dresses and satin dresses. I had skirts and cardigans. I had pastel Laura Ashley sheets in college and pink and white wall paper in my bedroom in Newport. The Emma pattern was my favorite!

The Liberty of London brand remains popular to this day. The bright floral fabrics have adapted well to the times. Contemporary Liberty prints are stylish, bold and daring, and the traditional, classic prints and seem to have more in common with Lilly Pulitzer than the Laura Ashley of the 1980s.

Is Liberty Channeling Lilly? Do they too have a floral Jeep?
(How cool is this building?!)

And now Liberty of London will be more readily available in the states -- I have some big news for all of you. Liberty of London is coming to Target on March 14th. (Did you get that my dear Tickled Pink & Green friend?!) Yes, more pink and green and preppy to brace the shelves of my beloved Target!

The Liberty for Target collection will include fashion for the entire family, home decor, and gardening items. The Liberty for Target line will be available for a limited time only... so run run run to your closest Target!

Photos courtesy Real Simple.com

Pink and Green Party Prep

I worked on prep for Rebecca's party for a good 12 hours yesterday. I missed most of the opening ceremonies and my tootsies were too tired to tip toe through the house at midnight when I finally turned it. It was a long and semi stressful day yesterday. My husband hurt his back. Badly. It had been sore for a while and so I am thinking that letting the kids jump on him and roll on him out in the storm on Wednesday was not the smoothest of moves! In addition to taking care of the kids I had to take care of him and you know how men are! Ok, I'm exaggerating... I did have to pick up an Rx that CVS forgot to fill but that was it. He left me alone to tend to the children and work on Pinking and Greening my house. I am a bit worried about tonight. He had planned on taking the boys out of the house. I'm pretty sure that won't happen since he can barely get out of the bed... already picturing Alexander who won't leave the kids alone... panicking about this just slightly! Though Rebecca did tell him that she would allow him to stay upstairs as they paint their nails. We shall see.....

I am super thrilled with my work and Rebecca is too! Nothing better than that. She kept showering me with hugs yesterday as I added yet another pink and green touch. I was going to bake the cupcakes today but ended up baking them last night. I messed the frosting up on one of them so I brought it to my husband who declared it The BEST cupcake he had ever eaten! I guess I'll be posting that recipe!

Anyhow, without further ado, here is what I spent my day on yesterday.


Above: place setting -- decided to place the Lilly-wrapped Mentos on the table.
I also filled small pink boxes with the pink and green white chocolate dipped pretzels.


I found this fantastic (and I do mean fantastic!) self adhesive wrapping paper from Hallmark. I cut out each girls' first initial and applied it to their cup. 



Not only does this improve the look of a solid colored cup but it will eliminate wasting cups all night long as girls start a drink, put it down and become unsure as to which cup is theirs.
Now, they'll know! Fancy, frugal and environmentally sound!


And our matching water bottles! Rebecca peeled off the original labels and I cut the adhesive wrapping paper to fit. There are, admittedly, slight imperfections. I am sure the girls will not notice.
I would have been more precise for the adults.


Pinkalicious, white and green m&ms... a must have at any young girl's Pink & Green Party!


I just adore what I did to this chandelier!
It reminds me of a floating garden. It was created on a limited budget
and everything has been recycled or can be.


All the bows were purchased at the Hallmark store. I tied them on using green ribbon, leaving the sticky part intact so that these can be used for gift wrapping at a later date.


Green snowflake... a Target ornament from a few years ago. I had these in pink and green!


Star ornament, also from Target from a few years ago.
I had plenty of pink and green stars around!


My Happy Chandelier... I think I am leaving this up for a while!


I am thinking the table needs something... perhaps the white linen place mats.
I'll play around some more later on!




Lilly notebooks. Aren't these the cutest? We have 4 extra binders and Rebecca wants more for herself!
I cut out wrapping paper to fit inside the clear pocket on the front of these plain plastic binders!
Couldn't be easier!


I filled the binders with plain white paper, 3 hole punch lined paper, fashion plates (for the girls to design their own clothes) and some fun quizzes in the back. The only thing missing were the pastel colored pencils!


All packaged up with gift tags for each child!


Front table in the foyer... Don't these look wonderful?!


Oh, Bite Me!! ;)


 And, the best part of all, Dessert!
Daddy's Declared Best Cupcake Ever!
(Recipe on food blog)

So there we are!

Today I work on cleaning up the play room (nothing I am looking forward to!)
and decorating it with brightly colored streamers and a banner that I made.

I will prepare dinner prior to the girls arriving.
Rebecca's request:

Finger Sandwiches

Black Olives

Baby carrots, celery sticks with Ranch Dressing
(I also picked up Russian Dressing because it is pink!)

Deviled Eggs
(Rebecca hates them but they are festive!)

Pink Lemonade garnished with a Lime Wedge
(I may toss some Vodka into mine ;) !!)


Pink & Green Cupcakes
Fresh Strawberries
Green grapes

Boy I wish I had some Lilly cookie cutters... perhaps I will run out and see if there are any left...
I just can't stop! I need help!

Mind Your Manners Monday: Thank You!

Now that the holiday season is officially behind us it is time to take down our ornaments, stockings and trees. As we scramble to make room for the new we must not forget to thank those who have given to us so generously. This is especially true of children.

I have created Mind Your Manners Monday with hopes that we can all do our best to respect others and be polite. (Part of my betterment/self improvement resolution for me as well as this blog.) Many of these posts will be geared toward our children. As parents we need to set the example, and often we could use a little refreshment ourselves.

The first Mind Your Manners Monday post is about the Thank You Note and getting your children in the habit of writing them in a positive manner so that this does not become a dreaded chore.

I have always had my children write their own Thank You notes. When they were too young to write, I would ask them to draw an illustration of the gift on a hand made card. As the parent, I would thank the gift giver on behalf of my child either on the card or on a separate piece of paper that I placed inside the card.

As my children grew they were expected to write a little more.

  • At 4 I expect Alexander to write his name under his picture.
  • At 5 I expect him to write a sentence phonetically. I will then jot down a little note underneath his.
  • At 6 I expect a proper salutation as well as a sentence or two.
  • By 7 or 8, depending on your child's writing abilities and fine motor skills I expect a little detail about the gift my children are writing about.
  • And by 10, I expect my daughter to write at least a paragraph. (Some children can do this earlier.)
Rebecca still likes to make her own note cards. She is very artistic and the recipients, generally family, members do like to receive her art.

If your child is not terribly artistic there are some wonderful note cards out there for purchase. I really dislike any fill in the blank note card. I find this terribly impersonal and lazy. They do not teach good letter writing skills or etiquette.

We do try to make writing thank you notes fun.

For younger children you can use white or colored paper, stickers, crayons or a note card that suits their personality. It's best to turn thank you writing into a project as opposed to a chore.

My 8 year old received a digital camera from Santa this year. We will print out one of the images on his camera, place it on a blank card and this will be come the actual thank you card. He will write his note inside.

When my daughter was 8 she created her own Thank You cards. We purchased simple tent cards at Staples and she drew 4 different pictures. We then scanned and copied the pictures onto more tent cards. In fact, she created a Christmas card for us one year using this technique too!

I think Alexander would have fun creating some cards with paint. He'll paint something abstract and colorful onto some paper that we will let dry. I will then scan and print out the image onto note cards.

According to Emily Post, "It is not necessary to write a thank-you note, when a gift is opened and the donor is thanked personally at the time of opening. If the gifts are not opened in front of the donors, the child must write a personal note mentioning the gift by name to each donor." I strongly disagree and think that a hand written, or drawn, thank you note is a must regardless of whether a gift has been opened in front of the giver.

As parents we must set the example.

If I am invited to a party or a dinner I often send out a quick note thanking the hostess for a wonderful evening. If I am hosting a party and I get a particularly nice hostess gift, I will thank the gift giver with a short note.

I attended a baby shower for a mother in my daughter's class last month. I gave a generous gift card as a gift as this mother is expecting twins and thought that she could put the money to use for strollers, cribs or other necessary items that she'll need to purchase. Truth be told that I am quite annoyed I never received a Thank You note. I was thanked in person, both at the party and the next day at school, but I think a proper, written thank you was, is, necessary.

Below is an example of a thank you note written by a child. (It is Rebecca's thank you to my parents.)

Dear Moo and Popsy,

Thank you very, very, very, very much for the Uggs that I have wanted for a long time. They are very comfy and these ones do not give me blisters like my other ones did. They go with everything I wear and they go perfectly with my brand new fuzzy brown Northface jacket that Grandma gave me. And now I can be triplets with my two best friends!

I do not want school to start at all even though I love my teacher and my friends. (I do not like Math!)

I can't wait to see you again for Popsy's and my Birthday!



The above cards are from Lilly Pulitzer, Boatman Geller, Kate Spade for Crane and Crane

Stay tuned for upcoming Mind Your Manners Monday posts from some of our favorite bloggers: LPC author of  Privilege, Catherine, author of The Blushing Hostess, and Miss Janice, author of Etiquette with Miss Janice, and a relatiely new blogger, nationally renowned etiquette and lifestyle expert, Joy Weaver author of All Things Refined

Do You See What I See?

I often wonder what you all think when you come to my blog. You see this bucolic house in suburbia not far from Manhattan. You see my decorating, crafts and cooking. You hear my stories some funny others not so much. I try to portray reality. My successes as well as my faults. No one is perfect. I certainly am not. My children certainly are not. This is why I felt it important to tell you all of our day in the city as it was. I could have easily said it was a lovely day and posted pictures. But that would have been a partial truth. And it certainly would not have been entertaining.

As I sit and compose this post, in lieu of lovely family time filled with togetherness by the fire I sit alone in the kitchen. Chocolate chip cookies are baking in the oven. I did not make these myself. I bought the dough through a school fundraiser.

And I cannot for the life of me get these things to bake properly. Some are undercooked and others are overcooked like hockey pucks. I chuckle as I know my husband would have some wise-ass comment like "Nice cookie. And you have a food blog?" Much the way, every time the smoke detector goes off he shouts from his office "Uh-oh Mommy's cooking again!" We joke around like this all the time. So I have these things that vaguely resemble cookies and we are supposed to leave them for Santa. Um, do you think he'd like some apple pie a la mode because I seriously fucked these up!

Ahhh, and Merry Christmas to you too my Little Hockey Puck!

I also have a few more Christmas cards to get out. Addresses that got lost when the old laptop died last year and cards I have received from people I had completely forgotten about... blame the old computer crashing for that too.

When we open our Christmas cards in the mail we usually see beautifully dressed children with their hair done neatly smiling happily at the camera. Well most of us know the blood, sweat and tears it takes to get that one perfect picture. Before I had a digital SLR I would use my old Canon to try to capture that perfect memory. I would spend a ton of money developing roll after roll after roll only to have to go back and reshoot my subjects causing yet more blood, sweat and tears. Christmas pictures are hard things. As my kids get older it doesn't get easier. There is always one unwilling to play nicely and smile for the camera.

This past summer we went to the lovely Peak's Island off the coast of Maine to celebrate our aunt's 70th Birthday and my In-law's 50th Wedding Anniversary. The children, especially my daughter, looked particularly pretty that day. And since I had my camera this would prove to be the perfect opportunity to take pictures for our Christmas cards. The boys wore their navy blazers and their shorts, madras and seersucker, and Rebecca proudly wore her pink and green Lilly. I knew I was going to have the best photos. Until I was proven wrong.

As I sorted through hundreds upon hundreds of pictures earlier this month I found not one good picture of all three children. Not a one!

So I did what any good mother with a sense of humor would do. I used our outtakes! Nothing better shows my kids' personalities at their best!

Below is our card... a photograph of it because I still don't know to use the scanner. Anyhow a bit blurry, but here it is!


(Inside top)

(Inside bottom)

Merry Christmas

from our perfectly imperfectly family to yours!

My Preppy Cookie Winner is....

a perfectly named Mama Bickie!!!!

Yay!!! I am so excited for you and slightly jealous that I have to send the lovely cookie cutters off to you ;)


The result was chosen by the advanced means of "What number am I thinking of?"
Rebecca had a number and I guessed and the 10th person to leave a comment was Mama Bickie. Who says technology rules??!!

Vaseline and Sharpie Save This Fashionista's Day!

I have these boots. They're my favorite boots. They're not terribly expensive, nor for that matter were they terribly inexpensive. I do love them. They have a low, one inch heel and have a silver buckle along the back of the heel. They look great with paired with skirts as well as with jeans. They've got a horsey kind of feel to them. As I said they are my favorites. I love them! My husband bought them a few months after Alexander was born. I was in that lovely "in between" stage. Not back into my regular clothes and not in pregnancy clothes. I was feeling a bit bah humbug-ish and we were at a lovely boutique shoe store in Westport that sells both children's as well as adult shoes. I remember picking up a pair of shoes for Rebecca. I'm fussy about children's school shoes. Especially Marry Janes. They have to have a classic feel to them, if you know what I mean. And so many of today's are just, well, wrong. And also I feel that little girl's Mary Janes should not have a heel on them, especially when worn as a school shoe. So that's why we were there. As I was sitting with the children he sauntered over with a lovely black boot in his hand. "These are really nice," he said to me. I agreed. "Do you want them?"

We don't typically buy things for practically no reason. It's not like the old days, for us, with two incomes and no kids and plenty of trips to JCrew and Williams-Sonoma. So I was rather surprised by his generous offer. And the boots indeed were lovely. The boots indeed are lovely, only they really need to visit the cobbler.

I haven't worn them yet this winter and I have been dying to do so! I do love my black suede boots with the 3 inch heel, but those are not practical when running errands all day... when toting a 4 year old and bags and bags hanging off your arms. And the are not practical on the ice. What I really need to do is to get the boots to the cobbler and get the heel fixed. But the cobbler is about 20 minutes away and not near anyplace I need to be at this point in time.

So this morning I had on my black velvet swing coat with the Peter Pan collar, an old faded pair of jeans and what I really wanted to wear were my Favorite Boots. (I love nothing more than to dress up a pair of jeans with pearls and velvet this time of year!) I picked the boots up and held them gently, tenderly.

And off we went in search of the Vaseline and a black Sharpie. I found the Vaseline first. Using an old rag I dipped it into the Vaseline and then rubbed the petroleum jelly all over my boots. How they shined, even the toe that a moment ago had seemed quite scuffed up! Next I had to fix the piece of leather that had ripped away from the heel. I got my Sharpie and colored in the area where the leather broke free. After inspection I declared my Favorite Boots wearable!

To the naked eye no one would be able to tell my handiwork! They still need to get to a cobbler but indeed I will be able to wear them over the next couple of weeks. After the holidays I will have them properly restored.

Tomorrow is the last day you can enter my Lilly Pulitzer Cookie Cutter Giveaway... so enter now!

My Week in Summary

5 dozen chocolate shortbread stars baked but need to be iced (frosted?)
5 dozen regular shortbread stars to be baked, and iced
4 dozen oatmeal white chocolate cranberry cookies baked
3 dozen brownie ganache balls baked and decorated
1 ornament purchased wrapped and brought to annual Ornament exchange party
1 gift certificate purchased and wrapped for Holiday Baby Shower for an Oopsie who is expecting twins!
10 presents per child purchased and wrapped (yeah!)
3 outfits planned for Holiday Parties this week ( and changed about 30 times each!)
100 Christmas cards written so far
0 presents purchased for Darling Husband so far!
1 trip to Target to purchase fillers and Christmas gifts for cousins
7 loads of laundry
1 elf needing to be moved daily --forgot 2 nights in a row!
2 class grab bag gifts purchased and wrapped
1 class grab bag gift to be purchased and wrapped
0 presents purchased for my parents so far!
1 party to plan!
1 trip to be made to post office to purchase stamps
1 trip to dry cleaners to drop off and pick up holiday wear
1 week left of freedom (before kids are on Christmas vacation!)
1 boys blazer to purchase
2 winter coats, 3 pairs of ski pants and 2 pairs of winter boots to purchase

I haven't done much posting. It's that busy time of year!
Please Enter my Lilly Cookie Cutter giveaway if you are a blog follower!
Please stop by Miss Janice's to see a really cute Lilly of the Week photo!

Just watched Yes, Virginia There is a Santa Clause! Which aired on CBS last night that we recorded on the DVR... It's going to be a classic for sure!

Ok, the fun is over.... back to work!

Thanksgiving was like so last week...

We had a lovely and busy weekend. We celebrated our first Thanksgiving with my family. We all congregated at my aunt and uncle's house in a tony Hartford, CT suburb. There we were joined by my parents, my 3 cousins, their spouses and all eleven and a half children and an adorable Cocker Spaniel dressed up in her Angela Moore doggie collar. (This is so my aunt Dee!) It was delight and chaos and joy! Most of the time the children were in the basement playing with the toys from my generation... the original Fisher Price Little People, Legos and whatnot, working out on the gym equipment and watching the game in the movie theater. (I aspire to have a basement like my aunt and uncle's!) We dined on wonderful and perfectly cooked food. My aunt is a fantastic chef. And didn't stop until our waistbands got too tight for comfort. I met a new nephew. It was a picture perfect day!

The following day we headed to Massachusetts to celebrate Thanksgiving Number 2. We enjoyed leftovers at lunch with my husband's family. A crowd similar in size to the one from the day before. The kids hung out in the den playing Wii and with their Nintendo DSs while the adults never left the dining room and noshed on all the wonderful goodies all afternoon.

But Thanksgiving is not Thanksgiving without leftovers of one's own. I spent my Saturday in the kitchen cooking my own bird, relishing in the smells permeating through the kitchen and the rest of the house. There is nothing quite like that Holiday Smell! I would bottle it if I could! With the turkey I made stuffing (nothing fancy, just the Peppridge Farm variety) roasted carrots, roasted brussel sprouts and spicy garbanzo beans lightly sauteed in olive oil. My gravy came out perfectly! This was a slightly healthier Thanksgiving and delicious no less delicious than the unhealthier meals I have had in the past!

And then I realized something yesterday. I'm not the biggest fan of leftover turkey! I find it tougher and gamier than chicken. I feel the same about the turkey from the deli. So we'll have something else for our Christmas celebration with my parents. I'm putting my husband to work. He'll be making a paella. A delicious, mouth watering paella. Oh I cannot wait!

Yesterday Daddy and I headed out for a few hours. We poked around Home Goods and came home with two gorgeous white decorative pillows for our bed. The bedroom gets repainted this week. I've picked a Benajmin Moore color called Azure. Like the Cote D'Azur of my childhood summers in France. It's a stunning color. We'll need new bedding and it will have to go with our new paint color and my new pillows!

From there we hit Target and attempted to make a dent in the kid's Christmas gifts. And a dent we did make! I brought along the kids Christmas lists. Clearly written was that Christopher wanted a Cannon aqua digital camera. We found it. On sale! I got a big tub of pretty plastic gold ornaments and some gold ribbon so I can decorate the stair case in the foyer! I'm so excited to do this! We also stocked up on board games for all three. Alexander is getting a Leapster even though he didn't ask for it. He always feels left out when the other two are on their Nintendo DS machines. This way he'll have something too. We got all our stocking stuffers... toothbrushes, lip balms, hair accessories, cards, Lindt chocolate balls... Our stockings are never fancy. Just practical items that the children need anyway! Rebecca's big gift is a collectible baby doll that looks life like. It's been impossible to track down. It's insane what this doll costs. When we get it I'll head to Target and BabyGap (right to the sale section!) and find some newborn clothes. She wants a skateboard too. A skateboard and a doll! Makes me chuckle. I'll be headed to Angela Moore and Lilly. I want to get Rebecca a couple of AM charms and the Lilly pencils for her stocking. And maybe a dress to put under the tree. And some wrapping paper to cover the initials I will be hanging on her wall. We're well under way. Our purchases were snuck in and are safely tucked away in the basement. I hope to get all wrapped this week!

And the painters start today. I've decided on all my colors except for the kitchen. I've totally changed my mind and will try to get out to the Benjamin Moore store today! I hope it won't take more than a week to get the painting all done. Then I'll be able to have everything ready for the holidays. I'm so happy... I'm giddy with excitement. I just love this time of the year. I just love it!

Deitrich's like Alex P Keaton... loves to get dressed up!

Where the children can be neither seen nor heard... they must have gone in to the theater!

My cousin Alexandra and her son Noah... I covet her blouse and cardi!
How cute is Noah in his suit?!!!

My aunt's amazing food....

This place card is over 30 years old! Replicas have been made for the newer members of the family!

Can you see these magnificent carrots? My aunt found them at a local farmer's market. They are stunning!

Two of the newest members of the family with their Daddies...

My beautiful aunt and my cousin...

My aunt cooking and my uncle opening the wine... we drank this year's Beaujolais Nouveau. Complimented our turkey perfectly!

Mimi is 100 years old! She wasn't really sleeping here... these days her life amounts to eating, sleeping and drinking! (Sounds good to me!)

Molly and her Angela Moore doggie collar...

and another picture of Noah... totally want to gobble him up! (Pun intended!!)

Memory Board Tutorial

Because you asked!

This is kind of like the blind leading the blind, except I now have one tucked under my belt for experience! I bought a cork board when our local Blue Tulip was going out of business. (Luckily Swoozie's now occupies the space!) I think I paid $2.50 for it! It sat in the basement for over 6 months until I picked it up one day this past summer and painted it pink with white polka dots. She loved it. But I did not. The pink was too bright for her walls. So I let it dry and tucked it back down into the bowels of the basement until yesterday, when I resurrected it to try to think of something better to do with it.

I grabbed all my grosgrain ribbons, some fabric swatches that I picked up at AC Moore, my Mod Podge, my glue gun, some push pins, scissors, and the Lilly Originals postcards that I hadn't wanted to toss!

I played around with the design on the cork board to see what looked best where... I did it all freehand, though in retrospect should have used a ruler and done a little measuring!

Once I figured out where the fabric swatches and postcards were going to be, I secured them down with glue. The Mod Podge did not work so well and caused the post cards to curl up. I used the glue gun instead. Perfect!

Then I measured some wide grosgrain ribbon to cover the ugly metal frame. I made sure to cut too much so that the ends could be trimmed at the end. Here the glue gun did not work, and here is where I brushed on the Mod Podge. I brushed the glue on to the metal frame and then carefully applied the ribbon. When the ribbon was on and secured onto all 4 sides, I trimmed the ends. I happened to have a few silk flowers and glued (with hot glue) them on to the corners. I removed the push pins and applied then to where the ribbons met, crossed.

Then I took thinner strips of grosgrain ribbon and measured length-wise and cut three strips.
I took the end of each strip and carefully tucked it under the wider ribbon at each end, then I secured the ribbon using push pins. I did this three times. And again from top to bottom. I found a few iron on flowers and a wooden alligator that I secured on randomly with the hot glue gun.

There are a few bare spots that I will fill, then I will wrap the board and place it under the tree!

The background of the memory board can be anything really that matches the decor of the room where it will be placed. You can use post cards, material remnants, wall paper remnants, wrapping paper... the possibilities are endless... add a few personal embellishments and your memory board is done!