Monday, February 28, 2011

The Great Closet Clean Out!

At the beginning of each Spring and Fall I clean out my closet.  I keep my current season's clothes in the walk-in closet in our master bedroom and the off season wardrobe in the guest room closet.  As someone (who must know me very well) recently said, "Marlene's problem isn't bargain shopping...she does that.  Her problem is volume." Well said, well said.  What can I say, I get bored wearing the same thing every week.  I probably have 9 dresses in varying shades of blue hanging in there right now. 

I started trying to take pictures of this delicate process and the shutter on my camera broke.  You'll just have to use your imagination.  While you are picturing me surrounded by sweaters and pants and boots, also picture a mischievous two year old climbing all over me and undoing all that I've done.  For reference, he looks adorable in his dinosaur footy pajamas.

I've gotten pretty good at sorting through what to keep and what to give away (I donate it to a women's shelter).  Once, a friend even asked me to write down my decision making process for her.  Since you are so kindly reading this, I thought I would share it with you.

For the outgoing season:

1. Start with shoes-They are all over my floor and I couldn't get in the closet if I didn't start here.  Look at the toes and heels of your shoes.  Are they scuffed, broken, etc.?  If they look ratty it's probably time to toss them.  Did you wear them over the past season?  If not, toss them! Are they hopelessly out of style because you have been hanging onto them for over a decade?  TOSS THEM, Mom!  Oh wait, sorry.

2. T-shirts and Basics-I usually toss all of my black and white t-shirts. If you have spent money for nice ones, just make sure that there aren't holes, threads, stains, etc.  I always have at least 2 or three of each color in my wardrobe each season.  These are easy and cheap to replace.  You can get decent ones at Old Navy for around $10 and they will last one season, which is all you need!  It seems that my blacks always fade and my whites get dingy.  Rather than tossing them, you could keep them for working out, paint smocks for the kids, dust rags, whatever.  

3.  Pants/skirts-First and foremost, TRY THEM ON!!!  Do they fit? If not, get rid of  'em.  Nobody looks good in ill-fitting clothing, no matter how stylish it may be.  Do the same inspection here-tears, fading, threads, stains.  You get the idea.  If you didn't wear them over the last season, you probably won't next year either.

4. Sweaters-very important!  Check for picks and pills...sweaters can look bad really quickly.  Especially if it's been a season favorite.  Look closely at each one. 

Incoming Season:

1. Does it still look as good to you as it did when you put it away?  There are some things I put in the off-season closet that never make it back into the "current" closet.  Don't be's clothing, not your grandmother's china. (unless it's that pair of Chanel shoes you SHOULD have gotten engaged in-keep those)

2.  Try it on-I have had some major weight fluctuations since having kids.  I can't guarantee that what fit me last year will still fit. Hey, if you get lucky it will be too big-that happened to me (once).

3. Has your life changed?  I left my commercial real estate job for one in the jewelry business.  I wore khaki or black pants and skirts nearly every weekday for almost 11 years.  Now I wear jeans and cute tops or fun dresses.  I kept 3 pairs of my old corporate pants and tossed the rest.  I can't imagine ever wearing them again.  No since in them taking up space that could be used for more jeans! 

When the new season gets hung and folded, my closet looks just like J wishes it always would.  It's all sorted by sleeve length and color and very neat. I can undo that in about 3 days.  I did something last year that was almost life changing-I changed all of my hangers to those Joy Mangano Huggable Hangers.  I literally threw away every single hanger that wasn't huggable.  The pant hangers are so wide that I can hang two pairs of pants side by side on one. Talk about space saving!

I know this was alot of information without pretty pictures, but hopefully it will help you!  Hey, if you are going through your closet and ever have a question about whether to keep something or toss it, send me a picture-I have lots of opinions!

Marlene Pin It

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Let There Be Light

When we bought our 1950's house two years ago, the outside had been really neglected. Last year we worked on the back side of the house creating a place for Brainy Smurf to play baseball and an area for Smurfette's purple playhouse. Because of the nice weather we are having, I've been ready to work on the front. We started today with this little-turned-big project...replacing the front light. Before:

The old exterior light was way too small and from the looks of it, had been there since the house was built. As with any old house project, we ran into old house problems. Nothing too terrible, but after 30 minutes...I mean three hours and a few choice words later, Mr. T had done a super great job.

Now I am ready to pull out the bushes, plant loads of creeping fig, put up window boxes bursting with color, paint the shutters black, hang a new front door, take down the old iron, put up a white wood column, hang a Boston fern, and set out an oversized wicker chair with colorful cushions displaying our street number. I wonder how long it will take Mr. T to get on board...stay tuned...



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Springtime Crush

Marlene and I are in love...a head over heels real life crush. And not with each other. We recently discovered House Tweaking, a blog written by Dana, a full-time mom and part-time pharmacist, who writes about her life, her family, and her house. She is cute, funny, brilliant, and has super great taste. I am pretty sure Marlene wants to dump me and be best friends with her. Don't say anything, but I don't think Marlene is cool enough for her.

After both of us stalking her blog for the past several days (it took me two days to read every blog she's ever written and Marlene emailed her asking for advise...yes, she's that pathetic), she has inspired what I'll call my first house tweak. Our 1950's kitchen has shelves on both sides of the kitchen sink. Charming, yes...functional, no. I'm not a knick knack fan and pictures I put there tend to get splattered and splashed on. This week, Dana posted about her kitchen hardware. I love the hardware, but with 51 cabinets and drawers in the kitchen, new hardware is not in the budget.

Last night the we packed up and took a family trip to Lowes. I found hardware similar to Dana's, went home and put Mr. T to work...not really. Here is what I came up with:

I am beyond thrilled at my $10 tweak. The shelves are clean, neat, and easy to keep that way. Before, we had kitchen towels across the kitchen hanging on the fridge or oven. Now when we need them, we will have one on each side of the sink that we can use. When I pull out my monogramming machine next, I'll embroidered an S on both of them and be done! Thank you Dana for this wonderful idea!

Rachel :) Pin It

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Push Up Bra

Whenever I have clients that come in with champagne dreams on a beer budget, I always suggest a mounting with a halo.  A halo is basically a frame of diamonds around the center stone.  I just read the best description ever for a halo:  "a halo around a diamond acts as a push-up bra for the center stone"

I don't know why, but this totally made my day!  I guess it's the little things.  Here is the theory in practice:

This diamond is a round 1.21 carat in a solitaire mounting

Here is my ring.  It's a round 1.21 carat in a halo mounting.  See my point?

Here they are side by side

Huge difference, right?

Now I'm off to enjoy this gorgeous weather!



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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Welcome Home

I love eating out about as much as Marlene loves Tory Burch and Pandora jewelry...barf. Literally. Mr. T and I got home last night after taking a family vacation with the kids. It was great fun, adventurous, and exhausting. What I learned was that 6 days in a hotel room reeks havoc on trying to eat healthy. Ugh! We are a family that eats at home together every night that we can...given on the kids activities and Mr. T's schedule. I keep us on a reduced gluten diet and try to avoid anything overly processed, fried, or high in fat, preservatives and all that other crap that comes in many foods. It's not easy, but we generally eat fairly healthy. I keep up with our daily water, vegetable, and fruit intake.

That being said, as we pulled into town last night at 6:30pm after being gone for almost a week, Mr. T looked at me and said, "What's for dinner?" I wanted to cry. The thought of eating out ANOTHER meal was not appealing at all. Brainy Smurf had already thrown up on the trip due to a crappy diet. As we pondered what to do for dinner I came up with an idea...

There needs to be a business called Welcome Home. You can set up a prearranged date and menu and call when you are a few hours from your destination. When you do arrive home; after being gone a day, week, or a month; a good quality dinner is ready for you at your house. I would have given anything yesterday to have been able to come home to a fresh salad, vegetables, and dinner. Any takers?

Rachel :) Pin It

Friday, February 18, 2011

My UNfavorite things

Generally this blog is about positive things: fun accessories, good finds to enhance your life, organizing your home, exercising.  This week, I am in one of those moods, though.  I need to vent. 

My rules of shopping and dressing are simple.  If I like it, I'll buy it.  I don't care how much it costs (on the cheap end, that is) or where it came from (I can't do used clothing, though.  Nothing against people who can, I'm just not built that way.  Thank goodness my boys are!).  I'm actually more excited to tell someone about my $25 Target boots than a $250 pair.  It feels like I've really done something, I guess. 

To my point...

I can't stand when people buy obvious things in an effort to have style.  I would much prefer someone NOT know where I got something. I  routinely mix Target and Old Navy into my wardrobe.  My shoes might be  more expensive than the rest of my outfit combined, but you would never know!

Here are a few of my top complaints:

1. Tory Burch

I just don't get it.  I was at a meeting this week with approximately 75 other females.  There was so much Tory Burch there that I think I threw up in my mouth made a sour face.  There is nothing remarkable about anything she puts out.  It's just a ballet flat (or handbag or diaper bag or flip flops) with her logo on it, people!  Pretty much, you are paying a premium so that A) everyone you meet will know how much you spent on your shoes, B) you can be a free walking advertisement for sweet Tory, and C) you can actually prove that you have no creativity and passed up that cute flat at Target so you could pay a premium to do A. and B.  I don't like to say "never", but mark my words, I WILL NEVER BUY TORY BURCH!

2. Classic Louis Vuitton/Fendi Handbags

My problem here is that you are paying thousands of dollars for something that can be bought in China for about $15.00.  I'm certainly not talking about quality.  I hate the logo print that both of these houses use.  Again, it screams, "Look at me!  I charged a whole bunch on my credit card spent a lot of money to have this bag!"  It is replicated so well in China that it's lost it's exclusivity.  There are some really amazing things from both brands but Jane Doe walking down the street isn't the girl carrying them.  She's carrying a fake logo bag that she bought on a trip to New York.

3. Pandora Bracelets

Ugh...gross.  I am sure I am offending people left and right, but please know, I like you.  Really, I do! 

Before you buy that Pandora charm, please stop and think about that local artist who does insanely unique pieces that are one-of-a kind and will cost you half of what that bracelet will end up costing.  And no one else will have one!!!

I could go on for hours.  Rachel wanted me to include Vera Bradley bags, too.  I'm going to end on a positive note, though!

Check out this website .  I am in love with her jewelry!  Especially the sterling silver stuff.  Instead of diamonds, she uses white sapphires which brings the price waaayyy down!  Genius!  The best part is that she is still relatively new and unknown.  I talked to her on the phone yesterday and she's really sweet, too.

This bracelet costs $16,500, but it's so beautiful.

Grumpily yours,

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Thursday, February 17, 2011


Like Rachel, I love to exercise.  I thought it was something that I was pressured (by my mother, media, society) to do, but I realized that whenever the I come home and the kids are gone, the first thing I do is exercise.  I enjoy running, strength training, and ballet.  My problem is that when J is on a trip, exercise becomes nearly impossible.  My two year old thinks me doing push-ups is an invitation to climb on my back.  There is also the issue of me having to do EVERYTHING-cook dinner, make sure homework gets done, feed our two mangy dogs, one very furry cat, and two frogs, bathe the boys, do the laundry, go to work.  Well, you get the idea.  Exercise becomes very last on the list. 

I do know something about myself, though. If I pay money to do something it serves as encouragement.  I met Katie Scharf yesterday at MOPS and she is a personal trainer who will come to your home.  She specializes in prenatal and postpartum women.  I told her I was VERY postpartum but still short on time, a mom, and a woman.  She agreed to work with me because I guess in the end, I am a woman/mom willing to pay her.  I can't afford to have a trainer every week or even really begin to schedule with one because as our friends and family know, we can't make plans even 24 hours in advance because of J's job.  Katie offers a 75 minute consultation and will create a workout plan for you to follow.  I like this idea because it's inexpensive (she quoted me $50) and I can meet with her every couple of months or so and refresh my workout so I don't get bored. 

I think having someone to touch base with like this will keep me in line and keep me motivated.  She said she checks in with her clients and also encourages them to have a goal, a 5k race for instance.  I know that if she is looking over my shoulder, even periodically, I will force myself to follow the plan. 

I guess in the end, it's about finding your it weight loss, health issues, or the simple fact that you are spending money and don't want to waste it?  Whatever it is, use it to your advantage!

Marlene Pin It

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


I've heard before that a new house is like a new relationship...never try to make changes in the first 6 months. I should have listened...We have a room in our house that's not a bedroom, not an office, not a den...I really don't know what it is. It has a good sized closet, a door to the back patio, and 2 doorways with no doors that lead to the foyer and the kitchen. Because of this, the room with no name becomes more of a weird hallway that we use to get to the kitchen. The first two years we lived in this house we tried to use it as an office for Mr. T, but when we moved his office to the living room it went back to being a hallway with a too small over-priced love seat in it. A few months ago, after 2 1/2 years, we finally figured out what to do.

I've always been against playrooms. Well, maybe not against, maybe just jealous because we never had the space. Anyway, I've been of the mindset that kids can play in their rooms and there is no need for them to take over the house. I was pretty confident in this thought until Brainy Smurf turned 9 and had a spend the night party for 9 of his best friends. Best smelly friends. Let's face it...boys smell, their feet smell, their breath smells. They fart and burp and smell. End of story.

With that being said we decided that our room with no name needed to become a kids den. Not to house their toys, but to have a place where smelly Brainy Smurf could come in with his dirty, smelly friends and watch tv or play the Wii (the little smurfs don't have tvs in their bedrooms) without me having a fit over them sitting on the nice, wheat colored living room sofas. While I wanted the room to look nice ( doors!) I didn't want to pay a nice price for it. After a few trips around town I found a fabulous rug at TJ Maxx and believe it or not the most perfect 8' x 11' sectional at Big Lots. Who knew!?! While the room is far from finished (lamps and wall decor are in my near future) I am already thrilled with how it is turning out! The smurfs love it and I feel like we just added an addition to our 1950's ranch. Everybody's happy!

blank canvas...12' x 16'

sideboard to house the electronics

door to back patio and closet

path from the foyer to the kitchen
Rachel :)
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Monday, February 7, 2011

Best Buy

Who doesn't love a best buy? No, not the place where you go to buy electronics...a best buy as in a really, really, really good deal! This fall Mr. T and I took Brainy Smurf and Smurfette to Atlanta for a fun weekend. We did all the touristy things: World of Coke, Georgia Aquarium, walked around downtown, ate at the American Girl Bistro, and took in a Braves game. We also did a little bit of shopping while we were there. When you shop with kids a little bit means run in and run out!

While we were most definitely not in the market for a new coffee table for our living room, we came across one deal that was too good to pass up. Actually I passed it up the first time when I was with Marlene, but when I told Mr. T about it he insisted we head north instead of south to make a purchase. Here it is:

Originally $399 on the Ballard Designs website, I fell in love with the Morgan Coffee Table. The great thing about Atlanta is that there is not one...but two Ballard's Backrooms. Ahhhhhh....the joys of finding a good deal. And we did just that. Marked to $99 this was one purchase that I couldn't pass up. We bought it in black and while it was not in perfect condition, the few places where the paint was worn off gave it the perfect shabby chic look. The baskets were not included, but I had a little birthday money from my mom and MIL that I was more than willing to fork over! I love the size, it's perfect for our family game nights when I always win at Scrabble:) And I love, love, love all the storage it has. One basket holds all our magazines while the other is the perfect spot for winter blankets. Yay for Ballard's Backroom!

Rachel :)

Furniture Feature Fridays
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Saturday, February 5, 2011

Sparkling Cider

OK, so this post isn't really about sparkling cider, but about the place where you keep it. In day 3 of home with a sick Smurf, I decided to clean the kitchen. When I say clean the kitchen I mean CLEAN the kitchen. At first I was going to organize the pots and pans. This lead to taking out all the pots and pans, which lead to taking everything out of every cabinet, which lead to vacuuming the insides of all the cabinets, which lead to wiping, scrubbing, cleaning, vacuuming, and moping every square inch of the kitchen. Here is what the process looked liked:

don't think I'll be needing this anytime soon!

Mr. T's food dehydrator...seriously.

Poor Pooh didn't make the cut. Look for him at the local Goodwill.

More of the Smurfs art

Currently being stored above the fridge. Probably going to Goodwill in the near future.

This is where the fun started!

even the fridge got a good organizing!

I'll save the drawers for another day!

Just once I would like to tell someone what I did and have their response NOT be, "Why?" Any takers?

Rachel :) Pin It

Friday, February 4, 2011

Paper Trail

The first thing you notice when your kids start school is the amount of "art" projects they bring home. I read a fabulous article in the New York Times about this last week. I selectively throw away, keep some things for a while, then throw away again. With Brainy Smurf at home sick for a few days, I had the perfect opportunity to sort through some masterpieces. This is what the save drawer looked like before:

another random save pile in some far away corner

deciding on what makes the cut

I like my Mom. She gives me hugs.

The girl gets ready for the bitch beach.

The items that made tub for each kid.

The same drawer...after.

While it breaks my heart to have a sick Smurf, I love it when I am at home with time to spare. It's so cute to look back on times when Brainy Smurf liked that I hugged him and Smurfette loved drawing pictures of people going to the bitch beach. We are at fun, fabulous ages now...but not too long ago they were just learning to write, draw, and express themselves. I am so thankful for my time with them.

Rachel :) Pin It