Last Year’s Summer in the City Diva-Q After Dark – Part II

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lighted Lumi-Loon helium balloons

Zebra helium balloons

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Arianne and Lady M™

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Arianne

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Eileen, Arianne and girls

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Arianne helping Sue

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Lisa, Renee, Myrinda, Sharlene, Jacq, Lisa’s Mom Peggy, Heather, Eileen, Arianne, Jenn and Stefan

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Arianne, Sue and Eileen dirty dancing.

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Erika, Sue and Jenn

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Myrinda, Brian, Jacq, Lisa, Eileen and Arianne

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Heidi and Jenn

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Joe the Bartender and NYC’s Finest.

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littleboys

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onthefloor

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Sue and Heidi

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Uncle Joe lighting sparklers for Hannah and Sierra

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Whitney and Gavin

With friendship,

Lisa

 

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Because I Don’t Have Enough On My Plate

Sometimes I wonder why I have to do everything in excess.  A perfect example:

While trying to come up with some decorating ideas for the upcoming BBQ, I came across Martha Stewart’s Tissue Pom Pom Tutorial.  Easy enough you say.  Correct.  Except I ordered a ream each of hot pink and lime green tissue paper.  Umm, that’s 960 sheets.  That means I can make 96 of these giant tissue pom poms!

7 tissue pom poms done…only 89 more to go.  If I’m to get them done by the BBQ (Saturday, August 7th), I’ll need to make at least 4 a day.  What the heck am I thinking?  LOL

Wish me luck, because I’m going to need it!

With friendship,

Lisa

My Glamorous Life

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I have so neglected my blog.  It’s not that I don’t want to update it.  Really.  I miss my crafty blogging friends terribly!  It’s just that I fired Mr. Diva’s secretary in early December and my life has not been the same.  I’ve gone from a woman who woke up every morning living life spontaneous (sewing, shopping, lunch with friends, etc.) to a working mother with no help.

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And during this time, our office landlord decided to repaint and re-carpet our offices (we have 3 separate rooms).  Oh and we added 2 new phone lines (to our 4 existing lines), 2 plasma televisions, and an additional internet connection.  Also we rented a 3rd office.  We upgraded our photocopier to one that also scans so we can email documents when necessary.  The list goes on.

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Although I’ve hired a new secretary, there is way too much work for one person to do…actually, it’s enough work to keep 3 full-time support staff members constantly busy.  And it doesn’t help that neither one of us were given any training on what needs to be done, where things are kept, etc.  So we’re just winging it!

Oh and did I mention Mr. Diva is a CPA and it’s tax season?  I think you get the picture.

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The holidays were a blur.  Seriously.  Everything was last minute and very stressful.  However, I did manage to get a few articles up on Boutique Cafe:

Holiday Tips with The Diva:  Gift Wrapping

Holiday Tips with The Diva:  Bow Tutorial

Holiday Tips with The Diva:  Tulle Garland Tutorial

Holiday Tips with The Diva:  Scents of the Season

Boutique Cafe Holiday Homes Tour (my home tour starts at 2:58)

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Speaking of the holidays, I still have my nekkid (aka beyond naked) Christmas tree sitting in the middle of my living room…not to mention, I have yet to wrap up all the Christmas decorations and put them away in the attic.  I did get half of them away yesterday…woo hoo!

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And to top it off, Mr. Diva™ went to Las Vegas for 5 days while I was left to fend for myself and kids in 17 inches of snow.

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I shoveled three times.  And what was the first thing Mr. Diva said upon his return?  ‘”Why didn’t anyone take the snow off my car?”  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  Men!

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On a creative note, Socialite Sister™ asked me to redecorate my sweet niece’s bedroom.  We searched endlessly for the perfect theme for little Miss Josie’s room until we came upon Timeless Treasure’s Mod Paris aka Bon Voyage.

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I purchased 8 yards of the pink heart fabric to make a Queen bed skirt.

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and the coordinating prints to make pillows and such.

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The main print also comes with a brown color way.  Only bought a yard of it as she’s purchased a brown duvet cover and we don’t want the room to be too dark.

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I bought the most awesome machine appliqué designs from Claire Atwood of Stitch On Time.  Yes, I have digitizing embroidery software, but at Claire’s prices, it isn’t worth it for me to do it myself.

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She even made me an appliqué of the camera graphic (6” x 10”) which I plan to cut out the centers, add photographs and frame several of them on the wall.

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Josie’s bedroom walls were already a soft pink, so I picked Pink Popsicle for her ceiling to make the room POP.

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And since I was being a bit adventurous, I had my BIL paint the back of her white bookcase a vibrant Rumba Orange.

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Now I need to find a wire dress form like this one.  I’d bought a similar one for Marielle’s room at HomeGoods for a mere $49.  There’s no way I’m paying $185 for one.  Guess I’d better start hunting for one in HomeGoods.

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Found this 13” vintage pink vespa on Ebay.  The seller still has a few more of them if you want one.

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Scored a bunch of vintage tatting of eBay, too while I was at it.  One can never have too much trims, KWIM?

I finally got in some sewing yesterday morning.  Well, actually I started sewing at 3am, because I needed some baby boy gifts for a Bridal Shower I was attending at noon.  I’d show you photos, but I forgot to take any.  I made some minky blankets and burp cloths using one of Joel Dewberry’s print.  They were a hit!  Yeah ME!

Oh and next time I even think of using that Minky crap, smack me upside the head.  I have it everywhere.  I think I might even have inhaled some as I can feel it in my throat…ugh!

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Martha Stewart’s Sewing-Themed Christmas Decorations

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Dear Martha:  Sometimes you are just so creative!  I have to say I was quite impressed with the sewing-themed Christmas decorations (Whimsical Workshop) I recently spotted at my local Kmart store in NYC.  Who would have thought to use a sewing tape measure with balls of yarn as tree garland?  Too clever!

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Not to mention your other garland of grosgrain ribbon, spools of thread and lots of button!  Ingenious!

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Love the mini wreath made with spools of thread and tied with a sewing tape measure!

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I giggled when I saw your sewing basket ornament complete with knitting needles!

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Loved the Button Christmas Ornaments, too!

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And that flocked velvet ribbon with images of stitching and buttons—too cute!

However, my excitement quickly turned to disappointment when I realized my sewing room is PINK, Black and White.  Seriously, I dislike anything RED for Christmas.  The Chartreuse Green I can live with, but not the RED.

Looks like I’ll have to make my own sewing-themed decorations for my Pink sewing room.  But Martha, thanks for the inspiration!

lisasiggie

The Secret Recipe for Eggplant Parmigiana

I’ve just got to share another awesome recipe from my buddy, Diana…the sweetest eggplant you’ll ever eat!

Let’s get started…

Ingredients

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Peel Eggplant.  Slice Eggplant lengthwise.

Add Milk to Eggs.  Set aside Egg mixture.

Mix 1 handful of grated cheese, a few handfuls of bread crumbs, salt and pepper together.

Dip Eggplant in Egg mixture.

NOW PAY ATTENTION.

POUND Eggplant while covering both sides in Bread Crumb mixture.  This rids Eggplant of bitterness.

Fry Eggplant in Vegetable Oil.

Place finished Eggplant on dish covered with paper towels between each layer (to absorb excess olive oil).

Now layer everything in a disposable aluminum tray (less clean-up!). Layer starting from the bottom (of course):

EGGPLANTPARM

Now put it in the oven for 30 minutes or until top layer of mozzarella is completely melted.

Remove from oven and let sit on counter at least 3 hours.  This helps it all firm up.  Otherwise it’s too gooey.

Note:  Tomato Sauce Recipe can be found HERE.

Choosing the Right Ingredients

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When selecting Eggplant, choose large firm ripe ones.  Use regular Eggplant, not Italian Eggplant.

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Don’t skimp on cheese.  Use Locatelli Pecorino Romano cheesePeople are serious about the types of cheeses we use here in NYC.  There’s no excuse…just order it online either here or here.   It has a brown rind with the Locatelli name on it.  Buy it ungrated if not purchased locally and grate it yourself.

mozzarella

Hopefully, you have access to Fresh Mozzarella at your local Italian specialty store or grocer.  You can cut slices of it or shred it.  I prefer it shredded as it melts quicker.  If you’re lucky, you can buy it already shredded locally.  If not, you can buy it on the Internet.  If you can’t you can use Polly-O Whole Milk Mozzarella (about 2 16 ounces packages) and shred it yourself.

Enjoy!

lisasiggie2

The Secret Recipe for Best Ever Italian Meatballs

I’ve tasted so many different meatballs growing up here in NYC.  Some are too spicy while others are made with too much bread and/or breadcrumbs.

My friend, Diana (aka Diana Bagels), spent an afternoon teaching me how to make the best meatballs I’ve ever tasted.  And how could I not share the recipe with all my friends?

So let’s get started…

Ingredients

  • 10 cloves of Fresh Garlic chopped
  • 10 Fresh Basil Leaves chopped
  • 10 Fresh Parsley Leaves chopped (Italian flat leaf variety)
  • 2 Handfuls Locatelli™ Pecorino Romano cheese grated
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 2 pounds Ground Beef (Chuck)
  • 1 pound Ground Sirloin
  • 5 Fresh Oregano Leaves chopped
  • 2 large Eggs
  • 6 slices White Bread
  • 1 cup Whole Milk
  • Fresh Breadcrumbs* (2 handfuls)
  • Olive Oil for frying

In a big mixing bowl, soak white bread in milk to moisten.

Drain milk.

Add all other ingredients.

Mix well with hands.  Oh, the gooey mess…LOL!

meatballs

Form big meatballs.  If you make the meatballs too small, they will fall apart in your sauce.

In a skillet, fry all sides of meatballs in Olive Oil over a medium flame.

Add 1/2 of them to the Italian Tomato Sauce recipe here.  We eat the other 1/2 of the meatballs while we’re cooking the sauce!

 meatballs

* Making fresh Bread Crumbs is easy peasy.  Just take day old Semolina Italian bread and put it in the food processor or blender until it’s fine.

Enjoy!

lisa

The Secret Recipe to the Best Italian Gravy (Tomato Sauce)

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First let me say, I’m an Irish gal married to an Italian guy.  My mother never taught me how to make tomato sauce, so I’ve had to learn from different strangers and friends over the years.

There are a million ways to make Italian Tomato Sauce.  I’ve tried so many different recipes.  Things changed when I tasted my friend, Diana’s (Diana Bagels) sauce.  It was by far the best one I’ve ever had and think you will agree.  I’ve changed the recipe slightly to make it my own.

Now, before we get started, let’s talk about ingredients.  If you want great sauce, you need to use top-quality ingredients.  Everything needs to be fresh.  Let’s face it, canned chopped garlic isn’t the same as fresh garlic. Same goes for basil.

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Don’t be using Hunt’s or another cheap tomato puree.  Go for the good stuff.  If your local supermarket doesn’t have Tuttorusso, order it online, or substitute Progresso or another quality brand.

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Now I realize Amore™ Italian Tomato Paste costs about $2.99 a tube. However, you only need 1/2 a tube and can refrigerate the other half.  Figure a regular can of tomato paste costs $1.29, but you can’t save the other half and end up throwing it in the trash.  Plus, the Amore is easily squeezed out of the tube.  No more tiny cans!

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Another important ingredient is your grated cheese.  Here in NYC, we only use Locatelli™ Pecorino Romano Cheese.  We don’t even call it Romano cheese.  We just ask for Locatelli as if it’s the ONLY Romano cheese…LOL!  If you can’t find it locally, order it online.  It’s worth it!

sausage

And finally, let’s discuss meat.  This sauce is delicious because of the high-quality meats that are cooked for hours in the sauce.  It’s what gives it such a great taste.  Don’t settle for supermarket pre-cut meats.  Instead, go to a real butcher and splurge.

braccoile

If you want, you can make your own braciole or get it already prepared from your local butcher.

Now let’s get started…

Ingredients

* Meatball recipe is HERE.

In a 8 quart stock pot, add enough Olive Oil to lightly coat bottom of pan.

Add fresh Garlic and Onion.  Heat over a high flame until soft.

STIR.

Add a splash or two of Red Wine.  Lower flame on stove to medium.

STIR.

Add Tomato Puree.  Rinse 1 Puree can with a 1/2 can of Water to remove excess Puree from can.  Poor into next Puree can and so on until the 6th can is full.  Now add remaining Puree/Water mixture to stock pot.  By doing this you get all the tomato puree and waste none.

STIR.

Add Grated Cheese.

STIR.

Add Sugar, Salt, Pepper, Basil, Oregano and Tomato Paste.

STIR.

Bring to a boil.  Lower heat to a low to medium flame.

STIR.

Add lots of Fried Meat including meatballs, Italian sweet and hot sausage, braciole and steak.

STIR.

Do not cover.

Cook for at least 3 hours stirring every 20 minutes to ensure nothing sticks to the bottom of the stock pot.  Depending on how thick you want your tomato sauce, you can cook it for up to 5 hours.

Now that  you’ve made fantastic tomato sauce, why not make some Eggplant Parmigiana?  The recipe is HERE!

Enjoy!

lisasiggie

Some Painting and Redecorating

Last week I had a 2nd painter finish up what the 1st painter didn’t paint.  Truth be told, painter #1 was a meticulous painter…except one problem, ok, several problems.  Painter #1 first quoted us a rate of $200 a day.  Fine.  Then he changed his mind 3 weeks into the job and raised us to $250 a day.  By week 6, he states he’d prefer $300 a day…GO TO HELL, I told him.  So we kept it at $250 a day.

Well, that’s all good and fine, EXCEPT Painter #1 is the slowest painter in the world.  My house interior is 3,800 square feet.  We’ve paid over $7,500 and he still was not finished…WTH?  And mind you, he didn’t paint my bedroom, garden room,  hallways, stairs or garage!

I finally got fed up and told him I had to replace some furniture before he finishes painting.  Needless to say, I never called him again.

Painter #2 finished the hallway, stairs and some trim in under 2 days!  Never again will I allow Mr. Diva™ to hire one of his dirt bag friends.  Never.  I think Mr. Diva™ would agree.

In The Pink

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I did have Painter #1 paint my dining room ceiling PINK (Benjamin Moore #1325 Pure Pink).  Everyone thought Mr. Diva would get pissed, but he didn’t seem to mind.  Happy Wife = Happy Life.  And guess what?  Everyone who comes into the house notices the pink ceiling and loves it.

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I scored these awesome pediments at HomeGoods for a mere $12.99 each!  I’m thinking of painting them ivory and draping pink organza curtain panels behind them.  They’ll be perfect over the two dining room windows and add more Pink to the room!

I know I have at least 10 yards of pink organza which I bought for the dining room curtain panels at least two years ago.  Now to figure out what box I stashed it in…UGH!

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And yet another SCORE at HomeGoods!  I found two of these huge candelabras–one silver and one white.  And on my next visit to HomeGoods, I found the matching cake stand!

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After having a friend remove all the crystals, I spray painted them all white.  And then I had the same friend reattach all the crystals.  I’m going to use them for the food table at my big BBQ this weekend!

All That Glitters

Now before you start rolling your eyes, have you ever gotten an idea in your head and took it one step to far?  I have a habit of doing this more often than not.

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Thank you Benjamin Moore!  Benjamin Moore’s Tropicana Cabana #2048-50 was the closest match to Tiffany Blue.

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But the truth is my inspiration came from this beautiful custom boutique set made by Lisa of Lyndsay Leila Designs.

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When I saw this glass container at HomeGoods, I knew I had to have it!  Love anything with Bling!

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Found this awesome canvas of Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s!  Added some hot fix crystals to her necklace and hair comb…PERFECT!

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Even my shower curtain rings are bejeweled…LOL!

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Got me a big ROCK!  Found this giant crystal paperweight at HomeGoods!  Perfect!  To clean it, I just throw it in the dishwasher along with the glass shelves!

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Found these aqua bath sponges at Target for only $1.99 each…and of course, I added more bling!

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Picked up a simple white shadow box for $8 at HomeGoods (of course). Then I covered the background with some Michael Miller aqua dumb dot fabric, added long black satin gloves ($4), fake pearls ($2), cheap sunglasses ($3) and my fancy crystal brooch (which is removable if I need it).  Smashing!

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Since I didn’t have enough Michael Miller aqua dumb dot fabric, I opted for another print of which I had 2 bolts on hand.  I sewed up a simple window scarf.  Not bad.

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I embroidered my aqua towels.  Instead of “Tiffany & Co.,” I thought “Diva & Co.” was more fitting.

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Go over to HGTV’s Rate My Space and give me a few stars…pretty please?

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OMG!  Hot Fix Suzy™ had to show me the rhinestone toilets from Jemal Wright!  I’m not going to even inquire about the cost as I’m sure it would be out of my price range…LOL!

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Think I might have to settle for these rhinestone drawer handles.  But I really want that toilet.

A Bright Idea

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Marielle’s new chandelier is finally installed!  Just in time for the big BBQ this past Saturday!  This fixture is HUGE.  The photo doesn’t do it justice…it’s a whopping 27 inches wide by 30 inches high!

Now I know you are all dying to hear about the big Diva Q…stay tuned, I have lots of pics and details to post…LOL

lisasiggie

Sweet Sixteen and Never Been Kissed

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Unlike her friends, Marielle chose not to have an elaborate Sweet Sixteen party.  Here in NYC, parents seem to go over the top with these ridiculous parties which resemble mini weddings.  It is not unheard of for costs to go way over $30,000!!!

I was able to have one of our local bakeries make a terrific zebra cake filled with Strawberry Shortcake in just 24 hours!  Talk about customer service.  I shared Marielle’s transplant story with them and they went above and beyond what I could have ever hoped for!

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Meet Coconut.  I caved in and surprised Marielle with a 9 week old Maltese puppy.  Isn’t she adorable?  Marielle had been harassing me, but her transplant doctors said she had to wait until 6 months post kidney transplant.  Ok, so I jumped the gun and got the puppy a mere 3 weeks early.

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My friend, Jennifer (Jaybird Designs) sent Coconut the cutest collar and sweater.  Love them!  Thanks so much Jennifer!

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In addition to her new puppy, we also got Marielle a cute zebra dog carrier.  Oh and the other big gift — a spa day for her and 5 of her bestest friends at Pilo Arts.  Marielle and friends will enjoy facials, body massages, body scrubs, pedicures and manicures in 2 weeks from now!

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For a week, my home smelled like a florist!  Marielle’s aunts and grandparents showered her with flowers and other great gifts for her birthday.

Mother’s Day Miracle

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My friend, Tara, celebrated her 1st Mother’s Day this year.  And boy, did she get the best present ever.  Her son, Colton, received a liver transplant that day!  What more could any mother want more than the health of their children?!  Wishing Colton a lifetime of health and happiness!

lisa

HEAT SWAP from the Best in the West!

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Received a big box from Lady M™ (aka Myrinda) containing our latest SWAP of the Girls Night In Club.  WOW!  I got some GREAT stuff!  This time we hat to spell the word, “HEAT!”

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H is for HANDMADE secret stash (black silk dupioni zippered case).

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E is for EDIBLE–delicious Salted Caramel Sticks from Have It Sweet confections.

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And Lady M™ added a little tag requesting I share it with Marielle.  Fat chance.  Sorry Myrinda!

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A is for AROMA…my absolute favorite scented candle – Trapp’s Fresh Cut Tuberose!!!  Funny thing is Lady M™ posted on Facebook requesting help in finding Trapp candles.  I suggested she get them online where I buy my candles, but Myrinda insisted she needed them right away.  LOL…now I understand why!  She totally tricked me!  I had no idea it was for ME!

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Would you believe her husband, Chops, found this for me?  Love that man!  I wasn’t sure if it was A for Aroma or E for Edible, because it’s both!  LOL!

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T is for THRIFTED…OMG!  I love this wire dress form!!!  Lady M™ knows how much I LOVE dress forms!!!  PERFECT!

A big, big THANK YOU to my West Coast Counterpart!  Myrinda is just one of those people who really gets me.  You’re awesome Lady M™!

lisa

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