The 1 thing that absolutely everyone must take ...

They say never to judge a book by its cover. Though I most often do.
I'm guilty of doing the same with wine and many other things in life.

We all do. This is why branding, imaging, product development and packaging are so crucial. We buy what we like. We buy what pleases us regardless of the contents. When the product is good we come back for more. When it's not, we move on. 

In life, however, that chance usually doesn't have a pretty label that jumps out at you. Sometimes chance is invisible and other times it is not. We are creatures of habit and like what is familiar and comfortable. But when we stick within the confines and the safety of our comfort zones we miss the most amazing opportunities. So I believe in taking chances both professionally and personally. It's something we all must do!

The above photo was snapped from the label of a lovely bottle of wine we'd had out at a restaurant the other night. We selected a Super Tuscan and the Maitre d' suggested we try this one. Sight unseen we took that chance. And what a fabulous choice it was.

I think it only fitting that today's inspiration should come from a wine bottle label!


rainy days and Mondays never get me down!

I really don't mind the rain. I quite like it. It's soothing and peaceful. I love to hear it as it raps against the window panes. With candles burning bright and mugs of hot coffee I find that I can settle in and be productive. Rain does that to me. It focuses me. It relaxes me and calms me. It revitalizes me.

There's nothing like a rainy day to help you hunker down and write...

Catch up on emails, phone calls, laundry, cleaning and cooking.

A hot bath, a warm bed, a good book and a glass of wine at the end of the rainy day is my idea of perfection.

If you must be out in it dance and splash and get wet!
There's no feeling as good as drying off and warming up afterwards.

Find a puddle and jump!

Grab a friend and dance and sing... let your hair down...

Get soaked to the bone!

Just think, with all this April rain we are going to have the most splendid May flowers!
Without rain there would be no rainbows...
Without rain there would be no sunshine!

Anyone who thinks that sunshine is happiness has never danced (or kissed) in the rain!

inspirational tuesday... the art of the daydream

Busy is good, right? I love being busy, but I don't like being so busy that I forget to slow down - to stop and look at all the beauty in bloom... the buds are popping and splashes of pale yellows and greens and pinks are all around us. A big storm is headed our way - the trees are swaying and my son's wind chimes are singing sweetly outside the window. It's chilly today - and while it looks like spring it feels like fall. I'm drinking copious amounts of coffee as I draft and edit all my projects. I haven't looked up much in the past couple of weeks, but when I have I've been sure to focus on the beauty that surrounds me. I yearn to head out again with my camera - I think I will this weekend. 

It's Tuesday already. How on earth did that happen?
Tomorrow's mid-week and before we know it the weekend really will be here. I like when time flies. I like to be busy. I like frenziness - I think I made up a new word! But never be so busy that you can't see the small stuff. Look past the big picture and look at the tiny details. That's where the beauty is. 

I believe in the day dream...
I believe in losing oneself, even for a few moments, to imagine the impossible and to dream the greatest dream...

For those of you who are as busy as I have been and yet have made a point of stopping by I hope you'll find some inspiration to lose yourself when you see the images below...

images via tumblr 

Make your Monday Count :: Make it Magnificent!

I love a Monday. I love Mondays. There, I said it!
Mondays are full of hope and promise.
Mondays give us a chance to start all over again.
Mondays offer us new beginnings.
Mondays give us opportunity.
Mondays can make a dream come true.
This Monday, make your mark.
This Monday, set a new goal.
This Monday, dare to dream!
This Monday, put on your best shoes and your best smile.
Count your blessings.
Make it worth your while.
Make it worth their while.
Make it memorable.


Make this Monday a magical one!


On children, and summer... and fall

Today's piece is inspired by a touching post on my friend's Facebook page... As the summer ends, chapters of many of our books are ending as well. Some of our little ones are starting school for the first time while many of our older children will be leaving the nest and heading off to college. This time of year brings with it mixed emotions. As we say goodbye to summer and send our children off to be in the care of others we must learn to let go. Our children will be fine. They will be in great hands. They will grow and thrive and become more of who they are destined to become. We have given them love, affection and strong foundations. We now need to let them learn to become their own people. As summer ends and autumn approaches we have so many wonderful things to look forward to. We can still take advantage of these last warm days and yet we can all look forward to all of the wonderful things that fall has to offer... Cooler temperatures that allow us to put on our cashmere sweaters and toss warm blankets over our shoulders... beautiful foliage, apple picking and pumpkin picking... Large mugs of warm spiced cider or mulled wine... Our days will become shorter and we din't have to put down those delicious sink-your-teeth-into paperbacks, instead we will move from beach blankets to warm crackling fireplaces, or outdoor fire pits... To summer we will soon bid adieu, but we know, as with our children, young and old you will return to us before we know it!

via Tumblr

On Children
Kahlil Gibran

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

Have a wonderful, wonderful weekend and I hope you are all able to get out there and take advantage of these wonderful last days of summer!



You and me beside the sea...

it's Friday... it's nearly here... just around the corner... next weekend marks the official beginning... but I'm going to celebrate now... SUMMER! We're going to have a spectacular weekend here in Connecticut. After soccer games and swimming lessons I'm taking my crew to the beach!

I'll start my day today with a brisk walk along the water with a good friend. We'll get some exercise, fresh air and catch up... I'm contemplating the beach chair... some note books, pens, iPad and a book I have to review... Wondering if I'll really be able to get some work done... but really wanting to try!

via Tumblr

I still love to play in the sand with my boys... I'm a great big kid at heart!
My daughter, 13, is now way too cool and sophisticated for such childish play :)

Steps to the beach.
via Tumblr

My heart always skips a beat when I come to the steps that approach the beach...
 it just knows what lies beyond!

via Everyday Health

Even though I am lucky enough to have several wonderful beaches in my back yard, 
I always feel like I'm away... on vacation!

original source unknown

Every year the kids and I place a note in a bottle... we have yet to ever hear back from anyone!

Gift From the Sea.

Catching up on beach reading is a must..
My magazines come home windblown and covered in sea salt and sand.
This book is one of my favorites. And no better place to read this life affirming book than at the beach!

sea glass in a frame!
image via Creative in Chicago

The beach always inspires us to get crafty. I simply adore this framed  art of collected beach glass...
this is a great family-friendly project!

via Tumblr
We simply adore picnics on the beach! We love to have all of our meals at the beach... breakfast in the early morning sun, lunch under the midday sun or dinner as the sun sets!

running on the beach!
via Country Living
Get up and move!
Go running or for a long walk with the kids!
Bring the towels... bring the buckets. You have no idea what might inspire you!

flip flops given to guests at a wedding on the beach!  Great idea!
via David Tutera
Old Navy flips flops are a must and I have several pairs. I prefer the all white ones. I have a couple of pairs in my closet, one in my car and one on my feet! They wash well in the washing machine... and then when they've been worn enough I toss them out and grab another pair!

via Pinterest original source unknown
We love to make a splash!

soak up the sun.
via Piccsy

 and no matter where you are this weekend, we are all due for exceptional weather, take a moment to put your face in the sun and feel her warm rays!

It's hard not to get overwhelmed by family activities and commitments, but make a promise with yourself that you'll slow down and take notice of all the wonderful things around you!

If by the end of the weekend your home is filled with sand and grass, you know it's been a success!



inspired by the sea...

It's no secret that I'm a child of the sea. She inspires, awes and moves me. I've grown up on her shores, locally and abroad. She's a part of my past. She's a part of my present, and she will be forever a part of my future. She energizes me and yet she calms me. There's no place I'd rather be.

This morning, dressed in nothing but a T-shirt and a running skirt, with my iPhone to keep me company I trotted off to the water, running slowly, an even, well paced jog. The water was cool but not cold. She felt wonderful underfoot. The soft sand gave way beneath each pounding of my feet. Ordinarily I loathe running. It pains me - literally and figuratively. On harder surfaces lightning-like pain shoots down my knees. On harder surfaces I can feel my bulging disc want to slowly slide out. But running on the soft wet sand feels nice. I love splashing in the water. I don't mind getting wet. It's refreshing. It's fabulous! As I run I can feel the warm rays of the sun shine down on me, warming my face, my neck, my back, my arms while my lower body stays cool. I close my eyes as I run.

I am listening to my music, an eclectic mix of varying artists from Adele, Bon Jovi, Eric Clapton, Sheryl Crow, Sting, Tim McGraw, Cee Lo Green, B.o.B, Pink, Joe Jackson and Pitbull... where my Zumba-inspired tunes co-exist melodiously with my Country Music... My pace quickens and slows based on what I'm listening to.

No one is on the beach. It's not yet 9:00 in the morning and I'm the only one here.  I run with my eyes closed focusing on how everything feels - the bright, warm sun on my face, the cool breezes glide past, the cool, wet water splashing up from my feet, slapping my knees and thighs. I can smell her salt. The ocean heightens your senses... and then I open my eyes and I have to slow down. There's just so much to see!

My mind races. I'm inspired. I'm energized. I'm calm. There's so much beauty and I need to capture it. I need to capture the details that we overlook. I need to capture the details that I might ordinarily overlook. I notice the color, the texture, the aromas...

Morning run on the beach

Morning beach run

Beach run


I got off the beach, an hour and a half after I set foot towards the shore, refreshed, and famished... I had to quickly shoot a few pictures of the carnival that was being set up... and into my car I slid just as the skies opened up!

What inspires you?



{Note: all photographs were taken with my iPhone via Instagram and uploaded on to my Pinterest board. All photographs are the property of The Entertaining House and Jessica Gordon Ryan and may be used only with permission.}

my trail of inspiration...

I have this large black frame that I salvaged from a dumpster death nearly 17 years ago in Greenwich, Connecticut. (I got it before it went to the dumpster as opposed to actually diving into the dumpster for it!) It's been in several of my homes. In one home she showcased a Van Gogh poster of sunflowers. In my last home she sat in the basement collecting cobwebs and dust. I dusted and polished her off and now here she sits against the wall. As you can see she's quite generous in stature. I've been thinking of having the children collaborate on a project. I'd like nothing more than to have have something created by my children together in my new home next to my work space. My children range in ages from 13 to 6.5 and their talents and abilities are equally as varied. So, I really need to come up with an idea that is suitable to all levels and abilities.

in advance... pardon the mess in the photo below!

And then it struck me. It was my "AHA!" moment, if you will.

I had been perusing LuLu de Kwiatkowski's blog, A Trail of Inspiration, that I somehow stumbled across a few months ago. LuLu is LuLu DK, the fabulous creator of the line of fabrics bearing her name. I found her fabrics a few years ago, the younger sister of a classmate who was a good friend in elementary school. I remembered her, adorable, with her blonde pony tails. And here she was gorgeous, grown up, fabulously talented and now fabulously famous. I still saw the adorable little girl with the blonde pony tails.

If you are not familiar with her products, you should be... If you are not familiar with her blog, you should be!

I came across this magnificent entry. Talented decorator, party planner and host, Eddie Ross, had used Lulu's fabric as a table cloth to create a wonderful table setting for a luncheon.

Pinned Image
image via Trail of Inspiration, Lulu DK

image via Trail of Inspiration, Lulu DK

Isn't that fabric fantastic? It reminds me of the ocean... it reminds me of sea glass and it reminds me of Henri Matisse, famous for his bright colors and collage. And it reminded me of a project that Alexander did when he was no more than 3 years old...

collage, crafting with children, The Entertaining House

Surely we could recreate this to fit a much larger sheet of paper using torn bits of colorful paper!

And so this is what we'll do!
Thank you Lulu for the wonderful idea... and for inspiring!

I'll be sure to show you the final project!
Meanwhile, please check out Lulu's fabulous video for more inspiration!



thoughts for a cold, Monday morning in January



"If you can dream it, you can do it."
Walt Disney


"If you want to know where your heart is, look where your mind goes when it wanders."




"Fly me to the moon!"



(All images via Pinterest)

It's a new week... a new beginning! Go make your dream come true!



A Thanksgiving message inspired by the river...

I love river rocks... I love the way they look and I love the way they feel in my open hand, against my skin... smooth and cool to the touch. Perhaps it is because they come from the river, and water has calming powers, that I find them so soothing. Their natural, organic beauty compliments any interior. I have seen many river rocks used as name cards, place holders, conduits of thoughts or well wishes and short inspirational messages. I love the way these rocks look nestled together in a large glass bowl in varying shades of the color gray, in their various shapes and sizes. And so I had a thought, wouldn't they make a lovely home for a simple Thanksgiving message? Perhaps each year guests and family members add something new allowing the collection to grow in both size and meaning.

Source: via Jessica on Pinterest


What are some of the things you are thankful for?



If these walls could talk: Monday's inspiration

You wouldn't exactly describe me as a wall flower. I do not blend into the background and fade away. Likewise, while I have a strong presence, I am not the "life of the party" who is always in the spotlight. I like to entertain. I like to be entertained. I also like to sit back, to listen and to take it all in. There is so much in life that needs to be observed, people, conversations, the beauty of the outdoors, the beauty behind closed doors. I don't want to miss any of it. I like personality and color - in people, in fashion and in my home. I suppose you could use those two terms to describe me - one wouldn't be far off by describing me as having a colorful personality. Color in my home is important to me. Only once I have ever lived anywhere with white walls. Only once. I was in a rental just out of college. Those white walls I found to be boring and depressing. I would stare at them and get sad. Artwork could not cover up their blandness.

When I grew up my apartment on Manhattan's Upper East Side was bursting with color. It was such a happy place. It was a place where I felt alive. A place that made me feel as though anything could happen... that I could create and dream and that it could come true. Our Kitchen and Butler's Pantry was green and the inside the cabinets and cupboards were all painted a watermelon pink. We had a grey dining room, white trim and lavender ceiling. My father's office was a deep, handsome burgundy. The front entryway that greeted you when you got off the elevator was wrapped in an elegant wallpaper filled with Victorian characters. It was a grand entry (in appearance, not in size) and when I stood there waiting for the elevator I felt as though I was on stage and these were all the spectators. As a child I would dance and sing to them until the Elevator Man stopped at our floor, opened the door and the brass gate. I would then step inside the elevator and bid my people adieu! When we entered the foyer, the elegant Waverly-like black and white striped paper let guests know that they were entering an exquisite apartment. If I recall properly, there was a large back lacquered dresser for hats, scarves and gloves across a rattan bench on which I would sit to take off my shoes or boots to toss into my front closet. The ceiling, a bright orange, stared down on me with her cheerful smile. A world of color is so important to a child. I am still enchanted by it all!

How I wish I had more pictures of our apartment... especially the walls with the Victorian characters!

My childhood bedroom was dreamlike. Southern exposure meant that my room was bright bright and cheery no matter what time of day or evening. It was like living in a dollhouse... each wall was a different color. I had a yellow, pink, green and lavender wall, each pastel. A pale blue ceiling overhead and a pale green shag rug made me imagine my room to be outside in a garden. My bedding was checkered. Big checks each coordinated with the colors of the walls. I had a wicker settee and coffee table. Nothing was ever out of place of out of order. Mother was a stickler with tidiness. (My closets, however, told a very different story!)

As you can see, when you look at the following images, I like bright, bold, cheerful and colorful! So many of the following rooms inspire me for the energy and feelings they evoke. Whether something simple, like a mirror, or an inspiration board to something more complex as brightly painted or papered walls, a simple space can take on a whole new meaning, energy and feel by simply adding some color to the walls. I am looking forward to decorating my next home and am starting to gather up ideas. The following pictures have all been gathered from Pinterest. Click on them and they should take you to the original sources.

Such fabulous ideas... not sure which I love the most or where I will begin!

Happy Monday! XOXO

How not to write...

I recently read a book recommended to me by a friend called God Never Blinks by Regina Brett. I've been struggling with my writing lately and this really struck a chord. This not only applies to writing, but anything that we want to do that for one reason or other we don't - either we never get to it, never have time, or simply just put it off... 

How not to write?
·         Let technology scare you. Postpone writing until you learn how to electronically number all the pages.

·         Get your doctorate in creative writing.
·         Start therapy.
·         Find the right writer’s group.
·         Wait until you get over your fear of rejection or fear of success.
·         Tell yourself the odds of getting published are against you.
·         Worry about how you’ll pay the bills
·         Compare yourself to everyone else.
·         Complain that it’s too hot, too cold, too muggy, or to nice to be able to write.
·         Try hard to add significantly to the world of great literature.
·         Analyze every idea before you write the first sentence.
·         Strive for perfection.
·         Declare yourself the next Shakespeare.
·         Try to write like everyone except yourself.
·         Use only big words to impress people.

How not to write?
·         Sign up for a writers’ conference instead of actually writing.
·         Constantly tell yourself you have nothing to say.
·         Consult your horoscope.
·         Make a list of all the people who think you won’t cut t as a writer.
·         File your nails.
·         Water the plants.
·         Clean the basement.
·         Open an office.
·         Build a hermitage n the backyard or an entire wing on the house to write in.
·         Look for affirmation from everyone around you.
·         Ignore your own sorrows, passions and music.
·         Whine about how nobody understands you.
·         Demand an advance first.
·         Talk to telemarketers.
·         Play solitaire on the computer.
·         Make a to-do list with writing as the top priority.
·         Complain about the English teacher you had who scarred you.
·         The professor who ignored you.
·         The brother who stole your diary.
·         The sister who read your journals.
·         Waste time envying other writers who have it so easy.
·         Edit as you go.
·         Check the rules of grammar and punctuation before you finish every paragraph.
·         Talk about your ideas so much that even you lose interest.

How not to write?
·         Wait until you have children.
·         Wait until your children stop teething, finish soccer and go off to college.
·         Wait until you have two hours of uninterrupted time to write.
·         Wait until you quit smoking, quit drinking, or find the right drink and are stone drunk.
·         Wait until your siblings move and your parents die.
·         Wait until you meet the love of your life.
·         Wait until the divorce is final.
·         Wait until you go on vacation.
·         Wait until vacation is over. Wait until you retire.
·         Wait until you find your music.
·         Wait until you feel inspired.
·         Wait until a doctor says you’ve got six months to live.
·         Then die with your words still inside of you.


Ok, what's your excuse for not following your dreams and passions? 

a note of a most personal nature...

I used to be impulsive.
I used to be the kind of girl who never walked but who ran full steam ahead.
Patience was not my virtue.
I used to be a free spirit.
Yet I sweated the small stuff every day.
I knew what I wanted but was too fearful or too intimidated to go after it.
Or perhaps was too afraid to fail.

And then I had children.
I had to slow down.
I had to learn to lead by example.
I had to learn to become more patient.
I had to learn to stop sweating the small stuff.
I had to learn to stop being intimidated or afraid.
I had to learn to accept failure from time to time.

As a mother I was still incredibly creative.
As a mother I was still incredibly passionate.
As a mother I was still incredibly appreciative
Of the beauty of life and all around me.
Perhaps even more so.
As a mother I saw things differently.
As a mother I started to see things from the eyes of a child.
As a mother I started to see things in a new light.

Even now I am still eternally optimistic.
(Some may call me a dreamer.
Some may say I have my head in the clouds.)
Even now I can still see the silver lining.
Even now I still see my glass as half full.

Motherhood has given me more confidence.
Motherhood has made me more determined.
Motherhood has made me stronger. Fiercer.
Motherhood has given me the courage to stand up for myself.
Motherhood has given me the strength to roll with the punches.
I have always had a powerful voice.
Motherhood has taught me how to use it.

I used to let life happen.
I have learned that in order to be really happy I must make life happen.

A year ago I started to realize that I was not really happy.
I started to realize that I was going through the motions of living but I wasn't really living. I was becoming a spectator and I wanted to be a player. I had all the wonderful "things" a person could want. But we all know that material possessions cannot buy happiness. I felt terribly for feeling and thinking the way I did. But these feelings started to grow and overwhelm. I could ignore them no longer. I was forced to take a good long look at everything around me and realized, although I had known (but not realized) for a long time, that my marriage was not working. We were failing. We were falling apart. A small crack had started in the foundation years earlier. Suddenly the entire home was crumbling. I felt sad and trapped and lonely.

I struggled for many months to figure out what to do. I couldn't possibly break up my family. I had three young children. This would devastate my husband. So I plugged along. But the more I knew that the marriage was broken the sadder and sadder I became. I could ignore the feelings I was having and just keep my unhappiness to myself and go through the motions for the rest of my life so that my family could stay together.

But deep down I knew this was not the right thing to do. I would be up nights crying. Many many nights. For months and months. The more I cried the more I knew I just couldn't go on. I sought help. I sought counseling. In some cases marriages can be fixed. In some cases they can't. They ought not to be. This is one of those cases.

I do not want my kids in a broken family, but more importantly I do not want them in a bad marriage. To stay together for the sake of the children is just wrong. I have been told this by numerous people and professionals. As much as I did not want to hurt my husband I knew, eventually, what had to be said. What had to be done.

I thought of my grandmother, La Jolie Grandmere, as I so often do when I need advice. She lived life. She lived it well. She lived it on her terms. Even from her wheelchair. She never would have settled. She never would have continued living in a manner that would have made her unhappy. She never would have settled. I really hate that word. I just can't think of another right now.

It's been almost a year now. It's no easier now than it was a year ago.
It takes two people to make a marriage. It takes two to cause it to fail. (For you all wondering, there was never an issue with betrayal or infidelity.) Our marriage simply stopped working. The love had been fading for years. My heart is still breaking over the pain this has caused. But in the end I know that my children will be happier and healthier. And in the end I think my husband will be too. He truly deserves someone who can love him madly, deeply. As do I.

I remember clearly in one therapy session. He said he had tried to give me everything. He wanted to give me the moon and the stars. I know he did. I know. I think about this daily. This still brings tears to my eyes.

I explained it well to the children, I think. You can have two people who are wonderful on their own. But together they are like water and oil. They do not mix. They do not compliment one another. We both love our children very, very much. Our children know this. We are sure to tell them as often as we can.

This was not an easy decision. This is certainly not the easiest path to take. There is pain daily. The tears are still there, almost daily.

I am not writing this to vent or air any dirty laundry. I am not writing this to hurt anyone. I do not want to be nasty. I am trying my best to handle my situation with grace and dignity. I am writing this for others to read partly to explain the reason behind some of my posts, and partly to give others some insight. And partly to inspire others by telling my story. The more I talk the more I know you are out there like me.

I do not advocate divorce. It is long and tough and grueling. But sometimes it truly is the answer. It is not something to be afraid nor is it something to be ashamed of. We all deserve the best and we all deserve happiness. My children do. My husband does. I do.

Thursday's Thoughts...

Sometimes life seems, well, larger than life... sometimes life's obstacle's seem insurmountable... sometimes we're ready to throw in the towel even though we know that we just can't... sometimes even the smallest task seems too large an undertaking... sometimes we don't want to crawl out of bed... sometimes tears come more easily than a smile... sometimes they don't stop flowing...

We all have days like these from time to time... and when we do we should think of this marvelous quote my friend Meg sent me today. It helped the tears disappear and brought back the smile!

image via Stardust and Sequins

"Clouds came floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm,
but to add color to my sunset sky." 
Rabindranath Tagore

XOXO Jessica

Happy Friday Thoughts!

Oh what a pleasant surprise we have today... unexpected sunshine! May you too be able to close your umbrellas and put your sunglasses on... May your smile be your umbrella, your lips be glossed and your flute filled with bubbles!

image courtesy Pinterest

Image courtesy Sam Blake Photography

Image Courtesy Martha Stewart Weddings

Image courtesy diydarlings


Monday's Message...

It's a new day. It's a new week, and here in southern New England it promises to be a spectacular one! Let's not drag our feet and bodies out of bed begrudgingly, full of Monday hatred and loathing. Seize the day and all the wonderful and new opportunities that come with it. While the saying goes that the early bird gets the worm, there are plenty of worms out there to be got. I know this first-hand as I was weeding in the garden yesterday!

Many of you voiced concerns last week when you read my posts... I had been meaning to write to some of you to explain. In a matter of 24 hours I went from having two jobs to none at all. I was owed money that I learned I will never see. Things have been tight for me financially and they will get tighter before they get better. After my initial shock and break-down, I managed to pull myself together and do what I do best... look at the best of the situation. Money is important (necessary) for sure, but priceless is the time I have with my children. I have seen so very little of them since Thanksgiving. I have worked every weekend, either one or both days since Thanksgiving.  I had been so busy my head and body were quite literally spinning. I was missing my children terribly.

I had my children back all weekend and I had them to myself yesterday, Mother's Day. And I daresay it was the best Mother's Day ever!

So, on this bright and sunny Monday filled with endless possibilities and dreams, let's make our lists. Let's make two of them -- one for things we must accomplish and one for things we would like to accomplish -- and start crossing off items from both lists!

And remember this... Today is a gift. That's why they call it the present.

XOXO Jessica


I believe...

I believe that everything happens for a reason...
I believe that good things come to those who wait...
I believe that (most) everyone has a warm, kind and generous heart...
I believe that we learn from our mistakes...
I believe that in order to appreciate the sunshine the rain must fall...
I believe that challenges make us stronger...
I believe that we can handle most anything...
I believe that positive thinking can take you far...
I believe in making the most of a bad situation...
I believe that a smile is your umbrella...
I believe in a good cry...
I believe in a hearty laugh...
I believe that we must be true to ourselves...
I believe that we cannot lose sight of our dreams...
I believe that today will always be yesterday...
I believe that tomorrow is a new day...
I believe in second chances...
I believe in magic...
I believe in fate...
I believe in the road less traveled...
I believe that kindness will get you far...
I believe that what goes around comes around...
I believe in being fair and kind...
I believe in doing the right thing...
I believe in unlocking the beauty within...
I believe in the power of positive thinking...
I believe in taking advantage of all that life has to offer...
I believe in seizing the day...
I believe in the power of love...
I believe in wine...
I believe in chocolate...
I believe in moving on...
I believe in looking ahead (and not behind)...
I believe in fairy tales...
I believe in me...

It's been a very long, challenging and emotionally charged week for me... A week that is not yet over. I could feel sorry for myself and let everything get me down or I can stand up, wipe myself up and keep walking, tall and proud... We always have a choice...

For young girls everywhere...

Life is wonderful.
Life is tough.
Life is filled with challenges.
Life is filled with rewards.

When the challenges seem too much, do not give up. Sit down and take a break if you must, but meet that challenge head-on. You will be glad you did. You'll find your reward, it will seem sweeter when it is earned rather than handed to you on a silver platter.

Stand up straight and be tall.
Stand up and be strong.
Hold your head up high.
Hold your chin up.

Don't sell yourself short.
Don't let others push or pull you down.
By that same token, don't listen to your own self doubt, but listen to the positive voices of your friends who will stand by you no matter what... Who know you are beautiful and strong and capable.
Never ever forget that.
You are beautiful and capable and strong.
You can do and be anything.
This is the truth.

Life is a gift.
Appreciate all that it has to offer.
Stop and smell the flowers.
They are pretty. They will make you feel pretty.

Life is hard.
Be prepared to jump over the hurdles or crawl into the ditches.
Nothing comes easy.
Have a good support team in place.
Remember you can do this.

The roads are bumpy but filled with gifts.
Don't be afraid of the bumps or you will never get to the gifts.

You are beautiful.
You are smart.
You are funny.
You are strong.
You will get more beautiful with age.
You will get smarter with age.
You will get funnier with age.
Listen to your elders.
Listen to you mother. She (usually) is right.
No one has all the answers but life is about getting to them.

Never sell yourself short.
You are one in a million and worth every dollar.
You are irreplaceable.

The harder you work, the harder you can play.
Never settle. If you are unsure, then move on.
One day you will be sure.
I know.
Trust me.
I have been there.
I am older and wiser, smarter and funnier and
More beautiful than I was.
I am stronger than I was. Much stronger.
I have learned to appreciate all the good.
I have learned to accept the bad.
And to move on and turn it into good.
I have learned to carry my head high and walk tall.

I have learned that a smile is my best asset
My smile is my umbrella.
It's also my best accessory.
Smile and be proud of all you have done so far.
Keep smiling, it will get you far.

And yet, do not be afraid to cry.
Do not be afraid to be afraid.
A good cry will help you.
A good cry feels good.
Fear will make you stronger.
Just don't let it paralyze you.

If you can't run,
Then skip
Or walk.
We all get to our destination eventually.
We just choose different ways of getting there.

Take a chance.
You'll never know if you don't try.
You'll miss out on a lot.
And if you fail? So what.
Brush yourself off and try again.
Do not give up.
Make mistakes.
Mistakes are good.
They make us smarter.
They make us stronger.
Usually, they end up making us happier.

Life is wonderful but it is not easier.
And it gets harder as you get older.
But remember this:
No matter what, in the end, your mother is always there for you.

all images in this piece via Pinterest

Magnificent Monday!

Image, courtesy Laurel Lee Photography via Flickr

You all know how I adore Mondays... Magnificent Mondays! 
I love everything Mondays stand for... they represent new opportunities, chances, hopes and dreams.
A new week begins and we can start all over if we want to, or pick up where we left off.
Star a new project, create a new To Do list... set your sights on something big.
Dream. Reach. Achieve. You can do it. I can do it. We all can do it!

Finally the windows are open this morning! Although it is overcast now, with rain due to start sometime this morning, the sun was briefly out. The fresh air is so lovely and delightful! Outside I can hear the bids, crickets and peepers. They are all singing to me ever so melodically. My mood is bright. The branches in a distance are starting to turn their emerald green, shedding the bare, dark bark of the wintertime. The magnolia tree outside my bedroom window has given birth to tiny pink buds. If only the sun was out this day would be perfect!

I hope your Monday is magnificent and magical too!