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Harry Potter and Halloween

Well here I am again, being a shut in (sortof) due to COVID, during Halloween, I am thinking, Harry Potter.  It’s been SO long since I have written anything but I took a stab at it tonight.

I wrote about it a few years ago, admiring a Harry Potter themed wedding.

When the books came out, I would organize book releases at Barnes and Noble at midnight, inviting other moms who were nuts like me to allow our primary school kids out late at night to the launch.  We would decorate our vans, aka Halloween-style, and allow our hyped up kids munch on delights that other moms created like “potion” punch or purple chocolate “dragons” and so forth. It was a mad house in the store but they were so excited to grab their first “copies.”

I credit JK Rowling for making my kids voracious readers, particularly the younger one.   Teddy was so enamored by Harry Potter and we knew it was the motivator to make reading an everyday occurrence.  In fact, when small, just about three and six, Teddy loved to have us read to him and brother Bill and couldn’t wait for the nightly sit down.  A few years later and lots of practice (Teddy was reading at 22 months), in Kindergarten and 3rd grade, they both were reading the latest books on their own.  By then, Billy needed little help but we would curl up and read the newest Harry Potter book came out.  The bad mother that I was, (tee hee hee) at aged five, we took both our kids to Barnes and Nobel at Midnight to get the latest book, Volume 2.  It was a huge deal and  ……….

Later, a few volumes later, the kids would fight over who had first “dibs” at the book those launch nights. One particular volume, Teddy won and got the book first that launch night. He was pretty excited and soon our weekly trips to anywhere would land us at a LEGO store to get the newest additions until our table grew with longer boards. Our tudor house was the PERFECT setting for their room.

By the time we moved to Florida, even the mere TALK that Universal would open “Harry Potter” land, well they were besides themselves. Although Bill was a bit older and ready to have his own room decorated his own way, Teddy still chose to go the Harry Potter route.  I found this pretty cool pain that was STONE PAIN and we got him a good start on decorating his room. Once again, we went to the Orlando B&N Launch for Harry Potter “Order of the Phoenix “.  It was now the little guy’s first crack at the book.  That night, he scurried up to his loft, now filled with dragons and Harry Potter paraphernalia and decor.  Early the next morning, out from the covers, Teddy pronounced “I’m finished Mom, you can read it now”.m tossing the book my way. Yep, that’s right – Teddy finished all 870 pages of Harry Potter V in one night as a 3rd grader; he was zonked for the entire weekend.


Kind of hard to believe now, I actually have a 2, almost 3 year old grand child and truly hope that before they ever let her see the movies, they read the volumes to her as we know these books really made my kids crazy about reading.  Part of Collection of Princess Everyday, here is our Wizard Dress

Its Beginning to look alot like Christmas

So, Halloween decorations away, and yep, the trees are up. This is the first year we are once again totally artificial with three trees! I thought I would NEVER do that however, in Florida the trees dry out very quickly.  We are a sucker for Christmas, (not to out-do Jessica Milliken) but we love the season as do most (just see my Facebook cover pix).  Of course, at Christmas this year, we are crazy for it, even here in Florida because, after all, we can get our “snow” bubbles at Disney just a mile away.  This time of the year too we get to meet many, many of our customers who come down to get their daughter’s Christmas Portraits for their trips.

Our customer chose this Tiffany Blue and Peony Pink silk flower girl dress for her photo shoot at Disney World.

Our customer chose this Tiffany Blue and Peony Pink silk flower girl dress for her photo shoot at Disney World

So, back to my trees!! My husband and I stole a tradition from my sister-in-law in that we try to pick up and ornament wherever we go for the kids, hoping they pick out their own.  This way, the kids have their own collection and when they get married, like Bill did this year, they get their treasure trove of ornaments.

I was really lucky too in purchasing my artificial trees during the Day After Christmas Sale.  We eyed them for weeks over at Hobby Lobby, drooled over them in Frontgate. (Seriously? A $2300 artificial tree? Seriously?), and ran around at local “Christmas Set Up Shops” – you know the ones that move into those Halloween stores. The funny thing is, I am not a Black Friday shopper (who needs the crowds?) nor had I ever gone to a store the day after Christmas for bargains, but this time, my husband and I were on the curb at their opening!!

We got 70% off the already-discounted tree AND to make it better, the clerk told me that we could haul off the floor sample for 15% more. WOW – I think the tree (which was tall) was around $750 and let me tell you, after spending a ridiculous $150 on a fresh tree that was dead before Christmas, we were thrilled to get 85% off.  In fact, we picked up another tree we both coveted last season that reminded us of our home, and had lovely snow and berries on it. I think we did great!  Finally, we were so happy with them we got a third “outside” tree in white so we can “think” snow.

Still working on the Thomas the Tank Engine Trains but this will all be up this year before my son comes home for Christmas break. Yes, and our tradition of playing Amy Grant the day after Halloween has once again been fulfilled.

Let the baking begin!!

I haven’t taken pictures yet but here, sadly, is our dog that passed away, under her favorite spot…. under the warmth of the Christmas Tree lights.  Maybe we can find a new one into our hearts this year.DSC_1959

Its Official: I am now a Mother-In-Law

This past week, one of my customers called me because she had her bridal shower and EEEK – she complained about her soon-to-be Mother-In-Law.  So, with my incredible sense of wisdom that comes with this business (LOL), I told her how when I was first married, my mother-in-law was such a strange thing to me. I didn’t really know how to handle her.  She was an awesome person and in fact, I knew her for years though my husband and I only dated for 5 months before getting married, but yet, being on the “inside” of their family traditions was very different indeed. It took a bit of getting used to her ways and finding that learning those traditions they held dear to them were likely pretty important to my new husband as well.  Looking back on it however, I find she was a great role model for making my new memories with my new daughter-in-law.  Sadly, we live almost 2000 miles from my son so our interactions are less frequent but I remember so many of the things Marion would do to include me in decisions.

But this new bride to be was really struggling, and crying as her shower ended up being a hot mess with the MIL really giving her a hard time about EVERYTHING.  So, I put on my newly acquired “hat” of a MIL and gave her the best advice I could give her:  Someday, she won’t be there and chances are, you will wish everyday she was.  Most importantly, I told her that it will take a bit of time to get into the groove of a relationship and know what makes her laugh, and their family traditions and so forth, but most importantly, to get along with her because after all, pleasing her will ultimately make your husband happy.  I also cautioned her however that leading up to the wedding will be hard for her because (and knowing this from experiencing the same myself) she will be losing her son.  It even goes deeper than that as well – especially when a baby is in the picture – because as sexist as this is going to sound, it’s you that usually goes to your mom about things such as where pots and pans go in the cabinet (beside the stove) and not the sink (because that’s what he thinks).  So, there won’t be the interfering as much with some of the traditional (and non-traditional) roles that you and your husband will have but experiencing what makes for good bonding is to use her as a way to learn more about your husband and family traditions as those will become important as you start your family of your own.

My mother-in-law sadly got ill while we were in our 40’s and for me, that was hard seeing my husband go through such a profound sense of loss, one which I would experience the following decade when my mother passed.  But I often think of the kindness she showed me those first few years of marriage as I try to relate to my new “daughter” which Marion was so good at making me feel like one of her own.  She showed me a deep sense of patience and kindness and acceptance although I am sure there were times she rolled her eyes about me.  So, with her wisdom, I chart a course for my future relationship and hope with patience, I develop that same with mine.with-my-mother-in-law


I stumbled on this FANTASTIC blog today filled with great ideas for DIY

I was poking around Pinterest today (because procrastination is my middle name,) designing my dream house and was looking for some alternatives to a marble slab in the kitchen.  I saw this post and admittedly, have a new go to blog to read.  So, instead of getting out of bed, I spent a good two hours reading one post after the other….. so, get your email account ready and sign up at this fantastic blog called

And because it’s Super Bowl Sunday, I thought of the commercial with the beer vs. woman’s closet – you know the one where the ladies are squealing when they see their friend’s new closet but the guys are hollering when they see the man’s “guy’s closet full of beer.”  I’m sorry, NOTHING is better than this closet!  I recommend reading from the start to finish of all of her posts!

DIY Closet found on


Harry Potter Wedding

I love Harry Potter and am a HUGE fan.

We were crazy about the books.  In fact, I lived in an historic Tudor home in New Jersey at the time and all the way up the stairwell, in the kids rooms, we had scenes from Harry Potter done by an artist.  I decorated their rooms like the dormitories and one of their closets was turned into The Common Room.  And yep, on the way to the scary attic, Fluffy guarded the door.  I’m lucky to get my “fix” living minutes from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter over at Universal Studios, Orlando but I still look often and “anything” Harry Potter.

Griffindor Room

So, when I came across this story in Town and Country about a Harry Potter Wedding, I had to know more.  Yes – the images are fantastic but more cyber-stalking later and I found Cassie has a website of her own, featuring her great paper bouquets that she makes – this one was for her wedding and was made from the pages of a Harry Potter Book.

Visit her Facebook page  HERE and become a fan for sure.  You have to visit her page JUST to see her incredible wedding video by Viaduct Video.

Photography for her wedding was by Kelly Clarke Cheshire, UK whose photography is absolutely incredible!!

Kelly Clarke Wedding Photography, Cheshire, UK

Kelly Clarke Wedding Photography, Cheshire, UK


Kelly Clarke Wedding Photography, Sale, Cheshire. UK

Kelly Clarke Wedding Photography, Cheshire. UK


Nestle’s pumpkin spice molasses cookies

Nestle's Pumpkin Spice Chips

Nestle’s Pumpkin Spice Chips

For those who know me, I bring out Christmas decorations the day after Halloween and bring out the cookie stuff Thanksgiving week, baking just two trays and freeze the rest for a marathon baking day around December 20th and wrap as gifts for service people and our UPS drivers, mailman and the such. 5 WEEKS of dough later, I’m making thousands. USUALLY mom’s old recipes but today, I tried Nestle’s pumpkin spice molasses with chips. I made a goof and had to double the batch. Thank goodness I did because it’s really strong. What a punch of flavor in one tiny morsel. Good job Nestlé. 

Halloween and Christmas Decorations

Halloween 2014I remember when I was a newly wed, my husband and I went to my parents house to set up their Christmas Tree.  It was just prior Christmas and my husband said that he really thought we should enjoy the holiday more. So from that year on, the day after Halloween is a huge day for us – with the tradition of bringing our decorations out. We start small, first bringing the decorations back to the attic and taking down just one or two of the boxes but the past couple of years, now that I have one so far away in college, we started right then.  So wish me luck as we begin to do it all, including the Christmas tree.  Why not – its always so beautiful with the lights.  I will let you know how it goes tomorrow.  Then it’s off to freezing cookie dough!

Homage to Ombre – starting with an Ombre Tulle Flower Girl Dress

A few posts ago, Ie highlighted a new flower girl dress with Ombre Tulle layers – the girls at the studio had fun, making these layers of tulle for that dress that had had miles and miles of tulle – so to continue this theme, I became obsessed and searched as I kept coming across some magnificent items to use for your Ombre Wedding. I admit, I got totally distracted finding these pretty things!

First, I looked for bridesmaids dresses to compliment our flower girl dress and the next thing I knew, there was a wedding gown by Lazaro I found that was so beautiful… and of course in my favorite color, Tiffany blue.  There were all kinds of turquoise ombre cakes (my favorite below) and a Herve Leger which would be perfect for my niece’s wedding.Going along with that aqua theme, before I knew it, I found a really neat distressed dresser, of course the stairs I still plan to do, even a stair railing! I GOT TO STOP!!!  Worse that anything, a new distraction, from – directions on how to make an ombre aqua keyboard.  TRUE heaven.  I’m in so much trouble. Ombre Flower Girl Dress

Turquoise Ombre Things!


Fitting Some of My Parents Into My Home – A Sad Goodbye

I don’t know what I like best, putting up Christmas decorations or taking them down. I suppose what I do love is the lights – though my neighborhood was not so into it – one was a renter and the other neighbor had twins a day or so after Christmas so they were busy on their own accord. What I DO love about taking the decorations down is that it makes things be back to ORDER. Christmas decorations, though I love them and the memories they hold are another layer on what you already have so it gets a bit messy for me. This time, taking them down I was able to some rearranging, and finally completing some of the things I hadn’t gotten done before. I also acquired some things from my parents winter home in South Florida now that they passed away. I stored some things for my son from their possessions for his first apartment post college, but some really pretty accents blended fairly nicely into our home. So I suppose these things will help me to remind me of my mom and dad and the wonderful memories of their home in Naples FL.

I had the sad task of closing up my parents winter home though they had passed away, mom 5 years ago, dad almost two years and I found myself saying final goodbyes. My sister had actually bought the home from my folks before they passed and had just sold it but I guess it was hard to think of it as her home since it was still filled with my parents things as if they had gone north for the spring. The one nice thing about it was that I was able to keep some of their possessions and incorporate them into our home in Orlando.  Walking around today after getting the Christmas decorations away, I was able to use some of their pieces into our home and took some pictures.

My folks had a passion for collecting unusual art in their Naples home.  Here two wood carvings blended well on the exterior of our turquoise “Pegeen Blue” home.


Tiffany blue house – turquoise and lime green look great together here in this sitting area on the brick porch accented with this metal wall hanging. reading-room-2

Reading room – finally a lamp that worked perfectly – the little decorative ceramic pot was covered with glass and sat on a wooden stand. I kept the wooden board that we tested all of our paint colors on – sort of a art piece – that hid the wiring for the computersreading-room

Every one should have a turquoise bed for their dog!! (above)proch-windpws

porch-3porch-2 Their display cabinet and plant stand found a new home in our sun porch.porchOur sinour fountainfireplace

Even mom had a sense of beach style for their home on the coastal shore – and peach, lemon and turquoise was pretty predominate in her home.  Dramatically different than their classic northern home, I felt some of her pieces would be happy at our home. I was so excited to add four leather aqua chairs from her kitchen – they fit great into the desk area and we added them to the interior desks as well as some in our offices.

It was very sad saying good bye to my parents and going into their house last week in Naples.  Knowing I would never go back was very overwhelming and I cried for what seemed like hours.  Finally, I was able to get to work on breaking down their home.  I suppose many who lose parents such as I do finally get to that big grieve… you know the one where you just have the air escape from your lungs, knowing that parts of them will be gone forever.  This past weekend was that time where you walked around their home, expecting to see them, remembering the time you would visit a furniture store with them or some of the art galleries picking out the perfect piece for a corner or a room.  I miss my parents sometimes so much – wanting more of their time, their wisdom, their company.

At least I now have some pretty things in each of our rooms to remind me of them. I will get to the upstairs next week.  For now, I am resting my bones.




In the summer and spring, and sometimes the fall, here in Florida it is always warm – even hot. Porches in Florida are a decorative thing with shade.



It’s not often you get to sit on them, its usually buggy and hot. Like New Orleans hot. But around October through February, even March you begin to understand why you moved here in the first place.  The weather is beautiful and as Florida likes to brag, truly a sunshine state.  It is pretty rare that there is overcast like we got up north…. and the skies are so blue.  Of course, Florida is also the land of lakes, lots of lots of them.  Yes, you sometimes curse them as you have to wind around then, roads stopping, starting again…. and Orlando is notorious for crazy roads that go part of a way around lakes that stop suddenly.  But this story is about porches.

Sitting outside on the porch or even the sun porch is just lovely. You read the books you couldn’t outside. You sometimes get a “Florida Room” which was really a screened in porch with glass…. urgh that ugly glass. You know, those small 4″ panes in a louver glass window pattern and then you kind of roll them up to let in the sun and air. NEVER the heat though. Well, we decided to use the glass from an old renno, rather our old house, and put them into the screen windows. They were really the cut glass inserts from doors around our old house that we carted from storage to storage until we found a place where we could use them.  So it was time to get them out of storage and get cracking on this new project.  We really did it last Christmas vacation when my boys were home from college and they could lift those 400 pound doors into place.


We were able to get sliders from Johnson Hardware that allowed them to pass each other. Although we did this last year, we are happy with it now that we are in that time of “Florida Porch” weather.  This year we were able to finally enjoy the porch and we are in the middle of Christmas Decorations, finally bringing out those Thomas the Tank Engine trains that the kids loved when small and those ceramic Department 56 houses we collected long before the bills got crazy…. you know “AK” “after kids” when you no longer had any money. Enjoy the Christmas Holidays!

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