East Coast Trip, Part Two!

For the second leg of our trip we made our way to our family's home in Shelburne, Vermont, on Lake Champlain.  This is one of my most favorite places in the entire world, if not my MOST favorite, and I've spent countless summers here making some of my most treasured memories with my Aunt Ellen. Seriously, I love Vermont- it's hands down my favorite state. I love everything about it, from the green rolling hills to the gorgeous lake, incredible skiing, and lush, lush forests. I can't get enough. And every summer we spend in Vermont makes me fall in love a little more.

This July was no different. We spent our days boating, swimming, and eating delicious food, our family gathered around the table laughing and telling stories. We went night-swimming, enjoyed downtown Burlington, and my sister and I went on long runs each morning.

Here are some photographs from this part of our trip:

Vermont, Summer 2011
Vermont, Summer 2011
Vermont, Summer 2011

Vermont, Summer 2011

Vermont, Summer 2011
Vermont, Summer 2011
Vermont, Summer 2011
Vermont, Summer 2011
Vermont, Summer 2011
Vermont, Summer 2011
Vermont, Summer 2011
Vermont, Summer 2011

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Vermont, Summer 2011
Vermont, Summer 2011
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Vermont, Summer 2011

Tattoo Tuesday V.85

Name and blog name: Shannon // i love mazzy + zephyr 
Occupation: Stay at home momma (of two!) crafter and DIYer I hope to open an Etsy shop soon
Age of first tattoo: 20
Favorite tattoo: My back (also my only tattoo right now)
Featured tattoo/location: Peacock, entire back
Artist/shop/location of feature tattoo: Done by Alex Garcia of Dolorosa Tattoo, Studio City, CA

1) Tell us about your featured tattoo- is there a background story or special meaning? Why did you choose this particular piece of art?

I chose this piece because my father passed away when I was young and he had a peacock holding a banner with my name on his forearm. I wanted something in honor of him and the short time we had together. The peacock also regrows its feathers every year, thus symbolizing renewal. In various religions they also symbolize resurrection. Renewal and resurrection were fitting themes at that time in my life. The beams of sun coming out from behind the clouds were very symbolic for me leaving behind and old life and starting over. Progress has been postponed twice when I got pregnant but there are no babies planned for the near future so I hope to continue with the coloring soon! 

2) Do you have any other tattoos? If so, what do you have and where?

I don't right now. My first tattoo (a gothic cross) is now covered up. I want to focus on finishing this piece and I am thinking long and hard about the placement of the tattoos I want next.

3) Do you plan on getting more?

Definitely! I plan on getting something for my two little ones.

4) How do your family and friends feel about your tattoo(s)?  Have you run into any adversity or negativity because of them? Do you have a significant other? Does he/she have tattoos?

My family is quite supportive. If my dad were around I know he'd think it was awesome. He had a ton of tattoos himself. My mom loves my tattoo and she just got her first at age 50! My tattoo doesn't show all of the time but if I am wearing a shirt where it does show I have got some looks and people can be rude but I don't pay them any attention. It's my body and I think its beautiful! My husband has two half sleeves and a couple of tattoos on his back and legs. He plans on getting full sleeves and more tattoos. One he really wants is a portrait of Willie Nelson.


5) Any advice for those interested in getting tattooed but haven't gotten one yet?

I would definitely say take your time deciding what you want. I know not everyone has a special meaning behind a tattoo but I think if you find something that does have real life meaning for you, you will love it forever. I got my first tattoo on a whim, and it didn't last, I wanted it covered up as soon as possible. My peacock symbolizes many different things for me and I continue to find new meaning in it as the years go by.

Giveaway: Black and Decker Steam Mop

Okay. So when Black and Decker first contacted me about reviewing their new steam mop, I have to admit I was a little excited, because my Mom has a fancy steam mop that I've been coveting for some time. And yes, I realize that fully puts me into the grown up category but I don't mind one bit!  B&D sent us over one, and we are so in love with it. We have a mix of large tile and carpet throughout our home, and Henry is all over the place, so we needed something I could use everyday to sanitize the tiled floor, but without scary chemicals.  I'm self-admittedly a bit of a neat freak, but I also really love spending time doing fun things (cleaning the floor does not fall into that category!), so we've been looking for a mop that is quick and easy to use, and gets the job done.

Enter the Black and Decker Steam Mop.

This thing is awesome.  I love that it's a chemical-free way to clean and I can feel comfortable having Henry crawl around on the floor without thinking about all the germs (or hazardous chemicals) he's picking up along the way.  I also really like the dial that turns to the specific type of floor you have in your home. We may eventually put in hardwood flooring in some of our front rooms, so I like that this mop kind of grows with you too.

From their website:
  • The power of steam deep cleans floors killing 99.9% of germs, mites, and bacteria without using chemicals

  • Smart SelectTM dial automatically releases the right amount of steam according to the floor type

  • Safe on all sealed hard floors - even delicate enough for hardwoods

  • Swivel steering for easy maneuverability around furniture and in tight spaces

  • 15 second heat-up - ready fast, no pumping required

I would never recommend a product to you guys that I didn't love, and I tried this out almost daily for a good month before deciding I would go ahead and move forward with a giveaway.  I'm actually really excited that one of you will be my steam mop twin and happy you'll get to enjoy the super simple, super efficient cleaning power of this adorable thing.  Yes, I called our mop adorable.

So, here's how to enter the giveaway:

For your initial entry:

Be sure you're a follower of this blog, and leave a comment with your name and email address, and tell me how you'd use the steam mop. What will you clean up? For us, I love to keep our floors squeaky clean so Henry can go where he pleases!

For up to three additional entries:
  • Like Black & Decker on Facebook

  • Follow Black & Decker on Twitter  

  • Tweet about the giveaway with a link to the blog post

For each of the additional entries, be sure to leave a separate comment letting me know you liked, followed, and/or tweeted, and include your name and email address too!

This giveaway will close one week from today on Monday, September 5th.

Good luck!

3 Beauty Products I'm Loving!

I don't wear a lot of makeup (at all), but when I get dolled up to go out on a date with Hank, or out on the town with my girlfriends, I absolutely love getting fancy. My everyday look is simple though- foundation, mascara and blush/highlighter. So that's why I love the products below- they can be used for day or night, and really make a whole world of difference.

1. Trish McEvoy's Eyelash Curler

This is hands down the best eyelash curler I have ever used!  I've been Shu Uemura curler fanatic for years, but recently while shopping at Nordstrom the sales girl persuaded me to try the Trish McEvoy curler, extolling its virtues for a good five minutes. I was hesitant, but I decided to just try it anyway and I am so, so happy I did. I have naturally long lashes so in order for my eyes to look as wide as they can be, I need a little curl. This curler is amazing. It curls 10x better than any others I've tried and I highly recommend it.

2. MAC's Mineralize Skin Finish in Soft and Gentle

I've turned on so many of my friends to this stuff because it's truly amazing. I use it on my cheekbones (above my blush), on the bridge of my nose, and anywhere else I'd like a little extra prettiness. It adds a fresh, dewy look without being overly sparkly and gives you a healthy glow. If you've never used a highlighter you don't know what you're missing! I suggest heading to your nearest MAC counter and asking one of the makeup artists to try some out on you.

3. Nyx's Felt Tip Eyeliner

Hello, $5 eyeliner! What could be better? I had always used MAC's Fluidline in Blacktrack, but I received this eyeliner for free with purchase at CVS or Target some time ago and haven't looked back. It looks and feels kind of like a sharpie, and like a sharpie it stays put!  It's extremely easy to apply, and the felt tip makes achieving a cute cat eye a cinch! I'm a huge fan, and you really can't beat the price. Definitely worth a try!

Let me know if you decide to get any of my picks, and be sure to tell me what you think. Enjoy, and happy makeup-ing!

*photo above from the morning of my sister's wedding & our friend Nikki's makeup!

this weekend

We're back at home, winding down after a half-sad, half-wonderful weekend.  Yesterday morning my family and I attended the memorial service of my best friend's mama, and it was so hard, but also such a beautiful tribute to an amazing woman, wife and mother.  It was difficult to see my friend in so much pain, but I know it was really helpful to have so many loving faces surrounding her.  Any time someone close to you or someone you love passes away it's always hard to see the meaning in all of it- why people have to go through pain or suffering, why we have to lose the ones we care so much about.  To hear my sweet sister of a friend speak about her mother today was so moving, and made me think about life and time and so many things that we don't always keep in the forefront of our minds day after day.

Afterward we went to Green for lunch and ran into some friends, then headed back to my parents' so Hank and my Dad could go to the Cardinals game. We have season tickets this year (great seats!) so it was fun for the guys to go do that and have some "manly" time. ha. My Mom and I stayed behind and watched a lot of reality television and ate a Kashi Greek pizza. Perfect night.

This morning we woke up bright and early to do some laps at the pool and then went on our usual Sunday morning trek to breakfast and food shopping. When we're at my parents' we always do what they do- which is Starbucks, Trader Joe's and Sprouts. Sometimes Costco and sometimes Whole Foods. I'm kind of weird and really, really love food shopping so it works. Afterward we went over to the Loops' so Henry and I could hang out with his Auntie Autumn and the kiddos, and Hank and Jason could go down the street to a sports bar and do their fantasy draft. Have I mentioned that my hubby is sports obsessed? And I have I mentioned that he is on FIVE fantasy teams? Yup. Insanity. 

Now we're back home, the little one is asleep, and I'm gearing up for a busy week. I hope you all have a great Monday!

our weekend

above: scarves makes even lazy days prettier; puppy/baby cuddles; IKEA; 7am and a peaceful pool; post-swim; sister sister; getting ready to lighten my hair; Autumn; my handsome frozen yogurt date.

a little cartoon

I love this, and if you have visible tattoos you may find the humor in this too!

I hope you had a lovely Saturday!


"Take up your cross and follow Me."

“Whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

Eugene Orowitz was a skinny, 100-pound sophomore at Collingswood High School in New Jersey in the 1950s. One day in gym class, the coach was teaching everyone how to throw a javelin. One by one, the students threw the six-foot-long spear. The longest throw was 30 yards. Finally, the coach looked over to Eugene and said, “You want to try, Orowitz?” Eugene nodded, and the other kids laughed. Some said, “You think you can lift it?” or “Careful, you might stab yourself.” But as he stood there, a strange feeling came over Eugene. Holding the javelin, he imagined himself as a young warrior about to enter into a battle. He raised the javelin, took six quick steps and let it fly. It soared and soared and soared eventually crashing into the empty bleachers. His throw went twice as far as anyone else’s.

When Eugene retrieved the javelin, he saw that the tip had broken in the crash. The coach looked at it and said, “Well, Orowitz, you broke the thing. It’s no good to us now. You might as well take it home.” That summer Eugene began throwing the javelin in a vacant lot. Some days, he spent six hours throwing it. By the end of his senior year, Eugene threw the javelin 211 feet – farther than any other high schooler in the nation. He was given an academic scholarship to college and began to dream of the Olympics. Then one day, he didn’t warm up properly, and while throwing tore the ligaments in his shoulder. That put an end to his javelin throwing, his scholarship, and his dreams. All his hard work was down the drain. It was as if God had slapped him in the face after he had performed a minor miracle with his puny, 100-pound body. Eugene dropped out of college and took a job at a warehouse.

The story of Eugene Orowitz raises a vexing question, one that is echoed in our Scriptures today: Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people? Why does He let suffering touch the lives of good people who don’t deserve it? We heard this in our first reading from Jeremiah. Why did God let a good man, a prophet, like Jeremiah be ridiculed? We heard Jeremiah’s frustration, “You duped me, O LORD, and I let myself be duped; you were too strong for me, and you triumphed. All the day I am an object of laughter; everyone mocks me.” And, why did God let tragedy tear the prize from the hands of Eugene Orowitz after he had worked so hard to win it?

Jesus gives us a hint of the answer to that question in today’s Gospel when he says, “Whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” What Jesus is saying is hard to believe, even a bit crazy, to someone who doesn’t have faith. “Whoever accepts suffering and misfortune for my sake will find a whole new life.” And it will not be only in the world to come. It will be right here in this world, as well. And Jesus suggests that it will be a far richer life than the one lost by tragedy.

Another way to understand this is to realize that God doesn’t cause tragedy; He doesn’t harm us; or cause harm in the world; He doesn’t give people cancer or cause drunk driving accidents; He doesn’t cause or condone the wars we engage in. These horrible things aren’t God’s will; in fact they are the opposite of what God wills for us. But, in the midst of tragedy, God can use even those challenging situations to guide us to newer and better lives.

Take the case of Eugene Orowitz. We left him working in a warehouse his dreams seemingly crushed. But, one day, Eugene met a struggling actor who asked him for some help with his lines. Eugene got interested in acting himself and enrolled in acting class. His big break came when he was cast as Little Joe in the popular TV western “Bonanza” which ran for 14 years. Later, he got the leading role in other long-running TV shows, “Little House on the Prairie,” and “Highway to Heaven.” You see, you might know Eugene Orowitz better by his stage name, Michael Landon. And in his success, he came to realize that the most important thing that happened in his life was the day he tore those ligaments in his shoulder, even if it seemed like his world had ended that day. What seemed like the worst tragedy of his life was in fact one that led to incredible blessings and fortune; a life that far surpassed the dreams he once held.

How do we apply this to our own lives? Jesus give us the answer: “Take up your cross and follow me.” Or to make it even simpler – not my will Lord, but Your will be done. And so, if we are a young person who dreamed of making the basketball team, but got cut, we should pick up our cross and follow Jesus. He promises He will lead us to a better life. If we are an older person who dreamed of being a success in business, or having the world’s greatest family, or greatest marriage, but ended up with none of these, we should pick up our cross and follow Jesus. He will mend our broken dreams and lead us to a renewed appreciation of life that we never dreamed possible.

All of this, however, still doesn’t explain the mystery of suffering and misfortune. In the end, all we may be able to do when it strikes is trust in Jesus who says, “Whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” We may never understand the mystery, but we can find comfort and direction in its midst. There is an old poem by an unknown author called “The Folded Page.” Let me end with it:

Up in the attic of an old house,
As raindrops pattered down on the roof,
I sat paging through my old schoolbook.

I came to a page that was folded down.
Across it was written in my old childish hand:
‘The teacher says we should leave this for now.
It’s too hard to understand.’

I unfolded the page and read it.
Then I smiled and nodded my head and said,
‘The teacher was right; now I understand.’

There are many pages in the book of life
That are hard to understand.
All we can do is fold them down and write:
‘The Master says to leave this for now.
It’s too hard to understand.’

Then, someday in heaven,
We’ll unfold the pages, reread them and say,
‘The Master was right; now I understand.’

“For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Let us lose ourselves in the life that Jesus has planned for us. Let us desire only what He wants for us and embrace the mystery of a life lived in and for Christ.

May God give you peace.

Guest Posting Today!

Is everyone enjoying their LAST august weekend?! There's just something about September that really finalizes the end of summer, BUT it brings a little bit of fall MaGiC with it! I'm SO SO sad to see the summer go, but the school busses chugging around the neighborhood, and the cooler nights, and all the glittery, sparkly pumpkins littering Hobby Lobby's shelves are making me Super-Duper giddy with excitement for boot and scarf weather...and autumn leaves...and pumpkin carving...and holiday decorating...and hay rides...and oh my I better stop! Maybe we should just get through August first...

So to celebrate MY last August weekend I'm hanging out with the cutie-patootie girls from J&M's Eye Candy! Come check out my latest up-cycled project and give Mrs. K&B some Love Sweet Love! It may or may not be an old, dusty window....

that may or may not have turned out to be my most favorite thing hangin' in my house right now!

Thanks for stopping by today, enjoy YOUR last August weekend too!