photography ~~ contrasts (weekly photo challenge)

Can’t believe a week has flown by!  I didn’t intend not to post–it just happened that way.  And, sorry to say, it looks like another blogging break is on the horizon for July.  Waaaaay too much is going on and my attention and energies need to be focused elsewhere.  So, for now, please enjoy my entry for this week’s photo challenge:  contrasts.

I took this picture on a walk in our local cemetery around mid-Spring.  I like the contrast between new life and death.

contrastb&w

Have a wonderful July!  I hope you have made all sorts of fantastic, summery plans.

OH!  Please visit the Daily Post for more contrasts.

A bientot!

~~Heather~~

photography ~~ between (weekly photo challenge)

I have always loved this shot.  I snapped it the day my Aunt (the calm, collected one on the left) was getting married.  Her sisters (my mom in blue) found a moment to be silly.  I always felt like this was a perfect moment “between” sisters.

between

I just love these women.

Please forgive the photo quality.  This is back from my film days…I scanned it in and really thought it would look better than it does.

Take some time to visit the Daily Post for more “Between” photos.

Enjoy your weekend!

~~Heather~~

home chic ~~ the art of living smaller

Hmmm.  Not sure if there is an “art” involved with what I am going to share.  But there was a necessity.  Allow me to explain.

I have alluded to the fact that there were some big changes hitting the Bliss House in previous posts.  I didn’t want to share anything until it was fait accompli.  So here is what has happened:

The Kiddos moved in upstairs.

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(upstairs guest room awaiting permanent guests)

YIKES! Right??

Without divulging too many personal details, Belle Fille and her husband tried to make a go of living in a “developing country”.  Since saying their “I dos”, they have shared the goal of having a simple life and using their youth/education/energy by doing volunteer work and working part-time.  However, the foray into third world living, took a toll on Belle Fille’s health and they needed to come back to the States for her to get well.  But they don’t necessarily want to stay in Michigan long-term.  They still have goals and they aren’t letting her unfortunate health situation (she is already doing much, much better) completely derail them from other opportunities.

When they first returned they rented an adorable cottage very near to Lake Michigan.  They got a great deal on it because it was off-season and they were able to lease it until May 1st.  As the months ticked by, it became apparent to the “parents” , that finding an affordable rental was going to be tough.  That realization lead to another…we kind of, sort of have the space to accommodate them (blast!).  It was a realization that took a little time to really sink in…to actually accept as truth.  Because that realization could have profound effects on everyone.

Yet…

…ever since we bought our home, I have felt that we bought too much house for two people.  Is it insanely huge?  No.  But our moving here also coincided with me starting my love affair with minimalist living blogs and books.  I couldn’t read enough and many purges have resulted from this.  And I was in the perpetual thought of “HOW CAN WE DOWNSIZE?”.  I didn’t necessarily want to sell/move again (unless it was to France) and there were undisputable pluses to having this house.  Like:

1.  It is cute.

2.  It is historic.

3.  We have a perfect guest/bath room situation.

4.  We have an exercise room.

5.  If an aging parent (like 85yr old MIL) needs accommodation, we can do that.

However, married adult children moving home never really entered into the thinking processes until March 2014.

And it was weird.  Brett and I both started thinking of this possibility separately but at the same time (because we have been married 20 years and evidently my mind stopped thinking independently long ago–unless of course I need to buy something he doesn’t see a need for).  He and I talked about The Kiddos situation and took an honest look at ours.  Yes, it was possible to have them live upstairs.  Fine.  We could even have separate entrances (they would use the front and we would use the back). After more discussion, head examinations, etc, we presented the idea to The Kiddos.  Surprise, surprise!  They accepted the offer.

However, if this was really going to work, and I was going to be able to keep a level of sanity, there was an absolute truth I knew I couldn’t do–EVER–if we were going to have them move in:

SHARE MY KITCHEN.

No way.

But the upstairs didn’t have a kitchen.  And we didn’t want to sink too much money into putting one in knowing that they may not be here that long.  Plus, should we ever move, doing anything like that and making it too permanent could devalue our home.  What to do?  What to do?

Get ideas from Pinterest.

I started thinking that doing something with a vintage feel would be fun especially since the house is almost two hundred years old.  It has established “integrity”, you know?   So I started searching for retro/vintage sinks and cabinets.  Brett called a plumber.

We decided to put the kitchen in the exercise room.  We were able to “easily” plumb this room because it was next to the bathroom.  Next we tore out the carpet to reveal the not so pretty pine floor.  There was no time to re-finish so we painted it.  In the mean time I was searching listings on  Ebay and Craigslist looking for the perfect kitchen cabinets.  I was fortunate to find the pieces we needed locally:  a sink/metal cabinet, another metal cabinet with counter top, a metal pantry.  It all started coming together nicely.

kitchen1

We bought an apartment sized refrigerator.  The Kiddos agreed to contribute by buying a convection oven and double burner hot plate (we decided against having a full-blown stove).  And then I had a stroke of creative genius.  This doesn’t happen often so I don’t mind bragging a bit about it.  I thought it would be great if they could have a butcher block island…not only for looks but to provide more work space.  And since I am always looking to purge something from my home I noticed a little, ill-used cabinet in my kitchen that could be transformed into something better.  Brett took the top off it and replaced it with a nice piece of butcher block (a 2′x3′ scrap piece I found on Craigslist left over from a couple who did  their own kitchen makeover with new block).  He put new wheels on it, I changed out some hardware, we added baskets on the side et voilà!  They had an island for practically nothing.  It is sooo cute and they love it!

kitchen2

Before we knew it, everything was done and the kids moved in.  Ironically, the day they were to move in, I turned the TV on that morning only to see the sitcom “Too Close For Comfort” being aired.  Do you remember that show?  Ted Knight starred in it and it ran in the early to mid 1980s.  It is all about the middle-aged parents sharing their home with their adult daughters, who live in the downstairs apartment.  But to make it even “funnier”, the writers decided to make the 40 something matriarch pregnant too.  Sadistic.

I couldn’t believe that of all days, and all campy 1980s shows, that’s the one I saw that morning.

And since they moved in, how has it been?

Really good.  Dare I say it…it almost feels…

…Normal.

Sure there have been “things” to get used to.  Mostly for us it has been the noise of walking and things dropping on the floor above us.  It is all hardwood upstairs so that stuff is going to happen.  Brett and I have adjusted to our smaller living quarters.  His office is now in the foyer (the only shared living space as the Kiddos have to walk through it to get to the stairs).  Most of the exercise equipment is in the (cramped) basement excepting the treadmill which is now in the family room (I like it better in there because I can watch “Andy Griffith” and “Family Ties”–current TV loves– while walking in the mornings).   I feel like we have finally downsized and I love taking care of just 1200 square feet instead of twice that.

As time marches on we don’t know what changes the future may bring.  The Kiddos may leave.  A parent may have to move in.  Or maybe we will sell and really go to France.  But in the mean time, we are content and happy living smaller.

~~Heather~~

french chic ~~ saying goodbye to a hermes scarf…

…is HARD!

I love this scarf.  I bought it because I love Hermes scarves, love vintage automobiles and adore the 1920s/30s.  Alas, the colorway doesn’t seem to work for my wardrobe.  This lovely gem has been (reluctantly!) added to my Etsy store.  Just thought you should know.  Or maybe you know someone who should know.

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You can enter through the Etsy store tab to see more information.

Thanks!

~~Heather~~

chic ~~ upgrades

I thought I would write about a few recent upgrades that have happened around here.  You know I never push products or advertise on this blog (except when I add to my Etsy store).  So what I am about to share is just to simply put the information out there and give my opinion on these finds.

My belle fille recently hosted a Norwex party.  Have you heard of it?  I hadn’t.  And instead of me going into some long explanation about the products and what they are and what they do and how they do it and why, I will have you just click HERE to read it all somewhere else.  That being said, I have to tell you, I am intrigued by these microfiber cloths.  Even before I went to her party I did some research and found a lot of great reviews–everywhere–about them.  I have used them in the kitchen for about a week and I like them a lot!  AND, I bought a body cloth for removing my make-up (with just water and the cloth).  Guess what?  It works. It removes the mascara too.

Blows my mind.

Cleaning without chemicals is of great interest to me.  And saving on paper towels is another added bonus.

Another upgrade?  AWESOME skin care.  Natural skin care is important to me.  I tend to go the organic route when possible.  I have used and loved products by Jason Natural (I adored their Vitamin C serum until they changed the formula), SIBU, 100% Almond Oil (any organic brand) to name a few.  I have also used products by Paula’s Choice.  My point is that I wasn’t really looking for a new skin care line.  It just sort of happened…thanks to Jennifer at A Well Styled Life.  She made mention on a post about trying Kari Gran Skin Care and loving it.  Of course I was curious so off I went to the website, poked around, read reviews and bought a trial set.

Starter Kit

Immediate love.

Just the smell alone is so luxurious and soothing–intoxicating!  I feel like I am giving my skin a spa treatment with every application.  Her system is a three-step process including a cleansing oil, hydrating tonic and an essential serum (I adore serums).  And her products are natural.  Note (from website):

“Kari Gran is an eco-luxe skin care brand providing a simple, elegant, all natural skin care solution that works flawlessly for any age and skin type. Beautiful skin isn’t a gift or something you can buy; it’s a habit cultivated holistically. Our products are hand poured with the highest quality natural, organic, wildharvested and non-GMO ingredients, our simple, easy-to-use, all natural skin care system results in an everyday ritual. Always paraben and toxin free—the little black dress of eco-skin care.”

I will be sticking with this from now on*.  I will forego the cleansing oil step because of using the Norwex cleansing cloth for now but the Tonic and Serum are must haves.  My next thing to try is her lip whip.

My final upgrade:

strawdown

strawbagup

I bought new straps via Ebay for my beloved straw bag.  This bag belonged to my Grandmother but I have hesitated using it because the old leather straps were weak and breaking apart.  I have bought leather straps for my vintage Coach bags before from a company on Ebay.  But they are kind of pricey ($25-30 each) and I needed to buy two.  This time I looked for more affordable companies that offered similar options.

 Found!

I bought a set in brown leather (not the chocolate color) and they match the existing leather detail almost perfectly.  I am pleasantly pleased!  And these straps are longer than the originals so I can wear the bag on my shoulder.

 I am not the only one in love with these vintage beauties.  Check out Janet at the Gardener’s Cottage.  And my giveaway winner, Linda, wrote to tell me how much she loves hers.  And Kate Spade.  Hello? Doesn’t she always “bring back” some sort of straw bag for Spring/Summer?

That’s it.  That’s all the upgrades going on around here.  My next post will tell you about how I am living smaller.

Happy Monday!

~~Heather~~

*I had worked my way through my skin care products so it was time to start shopping for replacements.  Nice coincidence!

photography~~extra extra (weekly photo challenge)

People, I had no idea what to do with this theme. I searched my files and I found these.  I decided they could work if I really tweaked the theme to fit my agenda.

Chicago Skyline with Fountain.  No filter.

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Chicago Skyline with Fountain.  Dramatic Filter.

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I would have to say the dramatic filter definitely adds some “extra extra” to an otherwise ordinary shot.

Please visit the Daily Post’s “Extra Extra” for more.

Happy Friday.  Have a good weekend.  And just be good.

~~Heather~~

vintage ~~ childhood relics

Have you kept anything from your childhood?  Do you keep it out on display?  Does it give you the warm fuzzies every time you look at it?  I have kept just a few things all these years.  We did a few cross-country moves while I was growing up so tossing things was a lot easier than hauling.  But a few little treasures managed to survive the long treks…and the careless handling of  youth.   Among those treasures are these little dolls:

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I have had them since the mid-1970s.  A sister of a friend of my mom’s crocheted these little figures.  The only one that has gone missing is the dog.  He used to play fetch with the little boy.  But (probably) on one of those moves he got misplaced…or simply ran off.  Who knows.

I had these dolls on display in an old, wooden Coke crate.  But there has been some recent reorganization going on around here and the Coke crate had to go.  I didn’t know where to display these little troopers at first but then it dawned on me that putting them with my favorite childhood book series was the perfect pairing.

Those books…those dolls…make my vintage heart warm and happy.

~~Heather~~