Although I see signs of aging by the truckloads these days, I am most thankful to Elizabeth Morton of The Mustard Ceiling Designs for my virtual facelift.  The process couldn't have been easier and Elizabeth was very responsive.  I am very pleased with the update and fresh look/colors.

I hope you all are enjoying the holiday season. I hope to be back to post soon.


Christmas Cards 2013


If you came here expecting a fabulous post displaying our already purchased, addressed and stamped Christmas Card for 2013 you must be a new visitor.  Sadly, none of those things have even been attempted as my "good" camera is out of commission.  The closest thing to Christmas Card preparations I have done is to peruse the Tiny Prints and Minted catalog.  I am hoping to find the card first this year and attempt the photo after studying the needed set up and styling the "matching but not too matching" outfits.

My good camera has been a Nikon D90 and I have loved it for the past 4 years.  Without it, I feel like my left hand has been lopped off.  I am right handed and didn't want to sound overly dramatic so I only went with my left hand for illustrative purposes.   The big question that looms - repair or replace?  It's at least $250 to send it in to Nikon plus additional repair costs.  A new one is probably double the repair price so I lean towards to replace.

Next question….with what?  Any suggestions for great new cameras to buy in the Nikon family?



Back to School 2013

The reveal of the teacher lunchroom went very well and the teachers are pleased to have a space to enjoy a break in a place that actually feels a little bit like "home".  I am so happy that the teachers are able to take a minute, forget about the cinder block walls, the hours they spend teaching and leading our children and refuel to face the remainder of the day.  Our family is thrilled to have been part of that and appreciate our PTO for providing the majority of the funding for the project.  If you can believe it, I took the last chair in last week and forgot my camera. I promise not to leave you hanging for too long.

As we approach back to school I think I am more nervous than my children. I am a mess of emotion about all that lies ahead....homework, who to sit with at lunch, projects, friends, etc.  I wish I could bubble wrap them and avoid the inevitable hurt.  I only hope that love and hugs as I send them off is enough to maintain their spirit.

I read an Instagram post this week asking for prayers for a daughter having some difficulties with back to school.  It breaks my heart to hear of young people having a hard time navigating the lunch table and playground. I had just read the following excerpt a classmate had written and submitted to my high school alumnae class notes.  It struck me and I have thought of it often in the last few days.

"Wouldn't it be nice if we all took the time to say only kind words to others?  When I turned 50, I thought long and hard about what I wanted to do with my remaining time on Earth.  I thought about what issues really mattered to me.  As a result, I have spent a lot of time talking about and dealing with the issue of bullying.  I know how hurtful it can be when people say cruel things to you or about you.  When adults stand by and let this behavior happen, they are equally responsible.  I hope that you all will join me in pledging to stop all forms of bullying."

I went to an all girl's school and graduated with 55 in my class. I remember that there were lots of different close groups of friends but I also remember that each group was welcoming and tolerant of the others.  I also remember that I straddled several groups fairly easily and don't remember outright and intentional meanness like I see today.

I pray that these words will stick with me in my interactions with parents, teachers and children as we enter this new school year.


Wish me luck....

Our family's summer project has been to redecorate the teacher's lunchroom at our elementary school. In September we will begin our last year at this school after 10 years with children as students in the school.  I volunteered our family for the project with funding primarily by the pto as well as several donor families.

I am very nervous to begin the install tomorrow.  We painted last month and I think several folks are nervous about where this project is going.  I promise them it will all be fine and then panic when I get home.  I created the plan with the interior designer I work with so I have a strong, and talented, backing.  The vibe is farmhouse comfortable with a contemporary flair.

The curtain was the first thing to go....

I still haven't figured out why it extends about 12" from the window...

And the paint colors were next.  Here are a few before photos.

The wall across from the entry door is filled with a bulletin board, refrigerator and coke machine.  We had all of these items moved to the entry wall (see above) so they aren't what you see first.

The dark blue on the cabinet wall fights with and draws more attention to the ugly cabinets.  The cabinets aren't going anywhere so we had to work around them.  We chose a palate that helps the cabinets disappear.  I also bought a console table for the 2 new microwaves and toaster oven so there is some counter space.

I was trying to work in the chairs and then I heard they weren't a favorite with our teachers so they are out.

I had hoped to replace the hardware but of course they aren't a standard size.  I brought them home, cleaned them up with some Barkeepers and will reinstall tomorrow.

This was our inspiration (fabric is by Robert Allen and paint by Sherwin Williams)....

The budget was $1500 which had to be stretched like Gumby! I needed to buy a table, 12 chairs, dishes, silverware, mugs, comfy chairs, curtains, paint and decorative accessories.  Ikea was my go to source, as well as consignment and thrift stores, in order to work within the budget.

The fabric will be made in to a curtain and combined with the curtain panels and used together on a double rod.

Our principal made only a few requests....one was for one long table rather than multiple smaller round cafe tables and the other was for a cozy corner.  I took my helpers (aka: my children) with me to an estate sale.  They made it such a fun outing.  We found these fabulous wicker chairs in the garage and decided they would be just right for the comfy corner.  The custom made cushions are comfortable and the exact color for our color palette.  $75 each and a few more $ for a spray paint touch up and we were set.

Our inspiration fabric looks great with the wicker chairs as well as with the 4 turquoise chairs we found at a consignment store. We will mix the 4 turquoise chairs with 8 white chairs around a wooden table to help the budget.  The turquoise chairs were 4 for $55 while each white chair was $45.

 The painting took 4 - 1/2 days with 2 of us painting each day. I'm not a great painter and I have never been happier to have a paint project finished.

We painted a lilac on the cabinet wall to help the cabinets blend.

The main walls are SW Hearts of Palm.  The fluorescent lights are making it BRIGHT!  I think the paint is getting mixed reviews but I feels sure that it will be tempered when the furniture and curtains are installed.

 We have really made it a family project and hopefully the children learned a little something in the process about estate sale shopping, project management and hard work!

Wish me luck for tomorrow and cross your fingers that it all comes together and looks like the vision I have in my head!  I feel like there are several moms ready to pounce in case I don't succeed.  More after photos will follow :)


Lilly P Warehouse Sale 2013

The Lilly P warehouse sale is always worth going to as you never know what you will find!
However, it's not worth getting in line on Monday (with your tent, chair and air mattress) for a sale that starts on Thursday!  People do that....can you believe it?

I ran over to the sale after a field trip to a stream - gross. I promise I didn't try anything on!  I spent the least amount of $ ever and bought a few things for friends, one or two for myself and nothing for Sweet Pea. It's a first - she is so tall and slender at 9.  Anything long enough was too big around the torso and anything that fit in the torso was an inappropriate length.  She was very understanding and a good sport - she really needs nothing anyway.

These tote bags were $29.....bought 2 for mom and 2 for a friend.

I kept finding squares in this fabric bundled together and decided to keep picking them up until I figured out what they were.  I am so glad I did because they are napkins!  Set of 4 napkins for $20.  I learned there were tablecloths on my way out the door.  I did a loop around and found a stray tablecloth in the 2nds department - I was so lucky!

 I love this blue eyelet tunic.  I bought it full price in February for a dear friend who needed a pick me up.  She discovered that her husband of 16 years, and the father of her 5 children, had been cheating on her for the past 12 years with multiple women and in long term relationships.  It's such a mess and I wish Lilly Pulitzer could make it all better.  It can't but an armful of shopping bags on her birthday can help her forget, even if just for a minute.

I love the shirt so much that I bought her and was thrilled to find it at the sale for a fraction of the price at $59.

Christmas stocking for Sweet Pea for $9.99

 The hottest items that had people jumping when I was around were the tablecloths and coolers. I was able to score one cooler bag and that was only because someone in line was second guessing their decision to buy the cooler and I was the first to offer to take it off her hands!  Lucky me!

There were lots of sorority bags, scarves and picture frames.  I always love the sale and had fun looking for treasures.  Thanks for recapping with me.


Lilly P Warehouse Sale

How on earth did the Lilly P warehouse sale sneak up on me this year?  The fact that it is sandwiched between and on Buddy and Hubby's birthdays AND all the end of year hoopla must have me terribly distracted.

In fact, the sale starts on my hubby's birthday....isn't my shopping at the warehouse sale a fabulous gift for him????

For years I used to plan my schedule around the warehouse sale. I hosted sleepovers of girls from Baltimore who came to town for the sale.  We slept a few hours and then left the house in the wee hours of the morn to get in line for the sale.  That was all before it started at 5 am!

There have also been years where I lined up the day before to get a number to  come back and shop the next morning.  In fact, I was even late getting back on the morning of the sale and was scoffed at by the employee at the door.  What was I thinking to hit the snooze button on the morning of the warehouse sale?

And here it is the day before the sale and none of that has crossed my mind until now.  I am losing sleep about taking the summer off of my job and leaving it in the very capable, and very young, hands of an intern.  How lucky am I?  A part time job that gives me the summer off to be with my children!

I will make an appearance at the sale and will of course fill you in on the details.  I'm just not sure when I will get there but rest assured it's not 5 am on my husband's birthday!



I am sorry to have that "Mean Mom" update on the blog for so long. My dear friend, I call her Ernie, reminded me today that I need to put something else up there. She is sick of seeing it and I don't blame her.  Thankfully things have calmed down now that "Mean Mom" has found someone else to pick on.  It's such a sad cycle.

There's lots going on here just not a minute to update. I seem to throw photos up on Instagram and never get over here. The promise of the quiet weeks of summer are within sight... 17 days until summer vacation starts around here! I hope they bring with them some time to blog :)

We have spent the last few months at many a rugby game watching our boys play.  Their team did make it to the u-15 rugby state championships which was a very exciting time for our family! They lost in the finals but have gained terrific friendships and a solid love for a sport that their father and Australian family have loved for years.

My partner in crime at the rugby pitch...

I went to a fabulous jewelry show at a tennis friend's house.  The jewelry was great but the kitchen was even greater. She said it was completely inspired by HOUZZ.  My photos are not great but I know you will fall in love with the wall of 1" x 1" marble tile as I did.

The island with tray of succulents running down the center was spectacular...

Just to keep things interesting I had a wisdom tooth removed....I was born with 1 wisdom tooth and it decided to grow in, sideways,  NOW.  I was definitely not happy about it's removal.  It's been ok but 10 days out and the cavern it left still bugs me.

Found a new consignment store in our town - love these $18 pillows....

I loved this mirror too but have no where for it....wish my mudroom had a spare wall.  $59 and wood....a great deal and I think it's gone.

I love the effortless look of this style....My outfits never seem so effortless nor do I look this good. Always good to have a goal.

We enjoyed a horse show over Memorial Day weekend....

As well as a new blouse and necklace from Anthro's sale corner that I wore out for dinner to celebrate a friend's birthday....

and a parade....we love a parade....

That's a bit of our latest.  Thanks for checking in on us....How are you?


Mean Mom Update

You all deserve an update.
I can say it in one sentence....
Mean Mom is still MEAN!

I took a brief hiatus from the blog because I had a "small" event to run.  It's called the Spring Fair and it's at Sweet Pea's elementary school. The same school that all of my children have attended.  My husband is my co-chair (I needed someone I could depend on), we work on it for months and it grosses over $30,000 in 3 hours - phew!  It has taken me a few days to recover.

So, while the Spring Fair is like a tornado in my life, add in an extra dose of Mean Mom and my brain got completely frazzled.

We met with the school after the initial complaint about Sweet Pea was filed and the school assured us that there was nothing to report.  Sweet Pea has never had any incident of any kind documented in her file in the 4 years she has been a student. They assured me that all was well and appeased the other mother accusing my daughter of being a bully by hearing her story and giving her assurance that all was well.

The next week brought another round of accusations.  Mean Mom recently complimented the teacher on a Lilly P sweater she was wearing and the teacher commented that the Bickies family had given her the sweater for Christmas.  Sure enough we did give the teacher a gorgeous cashmere sweater for Christmas and I was very clear in our gift that we paid $39 for it at the warehouse sale and nothing near the $300 retail.  Not for a second did we want to a) have any teacher think we were so extravagant or b) put on airs where none exist.

Mean Mom took that and started investigating the school district gifting policy because she was sure that we were "buying off" the teacher with expensive gifts in order to make her overlook Sweet Pea's "behavior".  A pure crock of molasses.

Last week was the last straw.  I received word from the rumor mill that Mean Mom was now circulating word that Sweet Pea's behavior was worsening and the teacher had promised her she would be calling us for a conference to address the worsening behavior.  I chose to head off the rumor and call the teacher to make ourselves available for a conference and assure her that we were fully invested.  The teacher responded immediately and assured me those words never left her mouth.  There was no behavior much less worsening behavior.  I spoke with she and the counselor and we have decided to play this out very carefully. 

I know that I can not discuss the issue with the Mean Mom directly because no matter which angle I come at it from, I will still continue to look like the bad guy.  The school is casually speaking to other parents to help put the rumors to rest. They are helping Sweet Pea rebuild her confidence and assuring me that all is well at school.

After the Spring Fair on Friday night we threw a Mexican Fiesta after party at our house for the chairs who have given so much in the past 4 months to make the Spring Fair happen. One of the moms was talking to Sweet Pea and she was talking about a special lunch she had with the teacher and guidance counselor.  Sweet Pea was sure to point out that she wasn't having lunch with them because she was in trouble.  It broke my heart to hear her have to explain herself.  I can only hope this experience, however frustrating has helped her understand the complexities of friendships and to know that, no matter what, her family will be right by her side loving her along the way.

As much as I adore Sweet Pea's 3rd grade teacher, I can't wait for this year to end!


Follow up to my letter to anyone who would listen

My letter last week was short and sweet to get your attention.  Forgive me for stating the obvious about complaining.  Today I hope to take a minute and explain myself a bit more.

Our society is being overtaken by righteous perfectionists who really think we care to listen to their complaints about anything and everything.  I am sure I have done my fair share of complaining but I vow to stop. I am going to find the good in most (I don't want to be a perfectionist and say "all").

As leaders, volunteer chairpeople, and PTO Presidents we need to shut the complainers down if they are just complaining to complain.  The complainers are driving the last wave of volunteers we have left to not want to volunteer any more because like me, they are thinking, why put myself out there to simply get grief.  I can stay home, put the time in to my paying job and my family, and be quite content.  Right?

Complaining is insidious.  Don't you love that word....I sure do!  Insidious means to proceed in a gradual, subtle way but with harmful effect.  If someone wants to complain then sign them up for the next volunteer opening and let them lead the way....for better or worse.  I truly believe most will find their appreciation for the services of others, even though different than how they might lead, and ultimately will complain less.



Mudroom - before

I had a request to show photos of my mudroom before it was a mudroom.   I searched back about 7 years and found a few photos of before, during and after.

Our current family room was once a garage.  One of the previous owners turned the garage in to a family room and added a separate garage that was attached to the house by an open air breezeway.
Below are two separate views of the breezeway from Sweet Pea's 3rd birthday party....

 Looking towards the driveway....

Standing on the driveway side and looking through the breezeway to the deck beyond....

Starting to close it in.....looking towards the new driveway side....

Same view through the breezeway to the deck beyond again....

The new wall of custom cubbies....cabinets above, shelves, beadboard backing, and drawer below.  We purchased them in paint grade wood and painted them ourselves a deep army green.  They are always a mess but I can't imagine what we would do with our "stuff" without them!

Nearly 7 years later I added additional built ins to better use the space....this is the beginnings of a bar....

Standing in the family room and looking out to the mudroom - this is my desk built at bar height to allow for a view out the window.  The door to the right of the desk leads to the garage.  Shelves were built around the window....

Closer view...

Getting closer...

You get the idea of the bar....we still had to install the wine fridge....

Any questions about our mudroom?

Had to include a few cute pics I discovered from her 3rd birthday...

Who's Medusa in the background.... good thing the cuties are in the foreground....