Archive | June, 2011

Doormat Upgrade

28 Jun

Over the weekend, an impromptu trip with a friend to one of my favorite places, Marshalls (TJ Maxx, HomeGoods… same company and I could curl up and live in any one of them) scored me the awesome area rug below for the front entryway for just $19.99. I kinda have a thing for paisley and the colors in this are divine- the blue of the living room, the red of the front door.

sad little doormat

Its WORLDS better than the cheapy one (to the right) I got a few months back from the same place for just a few bucks- ravaged by the vacuum and cat hair (no matter how much I cleaned it), it had seen better days.

The new one makes me smile every time I walk down the stairs.  With the new paisley rug and the best light ever, the small area that is the entry way is turning into a very happy place.


Veggie Garden- Phase 2

27 Jun

And then there were 2!

See Phase 1 here.

The second planter was a much larger task than I was expecting it to be.  Not the actual installation or planting, but the getting of the planter box.  The original was from Home Depot and less than 2 weeks later not only did they have no more of the same kind, they had never heard of that brand!  Commence frustration.  Do we go for a mis-matching planter of the same size?  I begrudgingly bought the other planter, but attempted to hunt down the right one (I spent more time calling area Home Depots than I’d care to admit to).  Luckily an e-mail direct to the manufacturer of our preferred planter was fruitful and I was able to order one direct from them for the same price.  Yay! I was also assured that next year when we intend to add 1 or 2 more planters they will still be available through direct order if we can’t find them at Home Depot again.  Double Yay!

Planter 1 is now the home of  2 thriving cucumber plants, a struggling green bean, 3 strawberry plants, one mystery plant from my sister, 2 cauliflower, cilantro, oregano, dill, sage, rosemary, and basil.

Planter 2 is a little zestier, housing 2 habanero peppers, 6 cherry bomb hot peppers, 2 red bell peppers, 1 yellow bell pepper, 1 green bell pepper and 4 cauliflower.  One of these things is not like the other.  I insisted on buying the cauliflower, whereas the rest are of Hubby’s choosing- could you tell?

In other exciting garden news (what, you don’t find garden news exciting?!) our brandy dandy new composter is on the truck for delivery as we speak.  The counter-top bin is still en route.

If you couldn’t guess- this whole gardening thing is new to us.  Its uncharted territory and we’re doing a lot of experimenting this year.  By next year, we’ll be experts!  more or less…

I am what I am

21 Jun

And what I am is a Treasure Hunter.  Who knew?!  I really didn’t.  I swear. (or maybe I just never thought about it before)

When I hear the term “Treasure Hunter,” I think of Cari Cucksey of HGTV’s Cash and Cari, or the guys from American Pickers.  However, when you start getting giddy because of a dilapidated old ornate frame you grabbed from someones trash pile in downtown Boston, I guess maybe that could be considered a qualifier to be called a Treasure Hunter. Just maybe.

I can only imagine what used to be displayed in this frame in its hey day (random side note- I was curious about the origin/meaning of that term.  Thanks to the good ol’ interweb, I discovered where it came from).  The story that I’ve created for it is that it housed a custom painted formal family portrait which was passed down the generations and moved to a new frame when this one fell into disrepair.

Anyway, back to reality.  This frame is actually 3 pieces that were once solidly attached together with hand-forged nails.  Each piece looks like a frame on its own and they are no longer solidly bonded (if at all), so that’s how they might find themselves into my house- 3 awesome refurbished antique frames.  They need a lot of love and repair, but how can you beat the price of FREE.  If I can’t save them, the worst that will happen is that they’ll end up in the trash they were originally destined for.

This discovery was on Friday (thanks to a coworkers keen powers of observation).  It occurred to me over the weekend that I may actually be considered a “Treasure Hunter.”  That find last week made my day.  Any normal person wouldn’t get so excited but I guess I’m far from normal in that respect (no comments from the peanut gallery on that one please).  I’m still elated over the vintage wire paper tray I discovered at an estate sale a few weeks ago.  Yup, I’m a special breed of crazy.  I blame it on my parents.

I started tag-sale-ing with them at a young age.  My first memory of going to a tag sale was probably around the age of 6.  I vaguely remember going with my parents and Grandpa and I picked out a small but horrific stuffed animal that was probably a carnival or vending machine prize.  I was SO excited to spend 25 cents on this ‘treasure.’  Flash forward to 21 years later.  My tastes have evolved a bit, but the giddy kid in me is still looking for treasures.

Little Wins

17 Jun

Today, I’m celebrating silly triumphs.


Do you remember when I posted an image of this mystery flower?

Well, it’s a mystery no more!  It’s Allium Nectaroscordum or Mediterranean Bells.

You have no idea how excited this little discovery made me.  Yes I am a dork.

I had this epiphany (thanks in part to Google of course) last evening.  I was trying to clean up the garden a little and decided that the dead stalks that used to be the beautiful flower above needed to go.  Most stalks pulled out of the ground with much less effort than I expected.  One stalk, however resisted and came up with the bulb- it looked like an onion!  That clicked in my head.  Alliums like this one in my garden are part of the onion family.  Lo and behold, after a search online, I found that the once mystery flower was in fact a type of allium!  I heart alliums!


The next triumph involves a lamp I plan to take home with me this weekend.

Last weekend, while feeding my addiction at HomeGoods I fell in love as usual.  Since I’m trying to be good and not buy too much house stuff (operative word here is trying), I took a picture and walked away from it.  (Not of course before making sure that it wasn’t the only one, so that it would probably still be there when if I came back to adopt it).

Since my cell phone doesn’t take the clearest pictures, let me tell you that the price tag reads $49.99.


I’d been obsessing thinking about the lamp all week when, yesterday, I came across an image on one of my other addictions Pinterest.

The Weston Table Lamp from ZGallerie for a mere $199.

Coincidence?  I think not.  This is the universe telling me that I need to go back to HomeGoods and take home my lamp, don’t you think?

My Peonies need Prozac

13 Jun

I don’t know if I’m the only one, but I don’t understand peonies.  I have zero experience with them prior to this spring and I had no idea what these weird things growing in my garden were until my mother-in-law clued me in.

I think I’m still missing something.

OK, I get that the flowers are beautiful…. but seemingly only when cut.  As you can see from the picture below- the flowers right now are pavement dusters thanks to the crazy/crappy weather of the past week or so.  I have been able to rescue a few bunches and bestowed them on my friends.  Even prior to the weather, though, the plants themselves just looked like angsty teenagers- slouching and a little depressed.

The largest of the more than half-dozen in my yard (most are pretty skinny, small and barren of flowers) has a proper cage/stake with 2 rings holding it up.  I swear it started drooping more the second I gave it supports, though.  It was just pulling the supports over with it!  The next step was to attach the supports to a trellis that I stuck in the ground behind the plant. That’s almost been pulled over too.

I just don’t get it!  How can I make my peony plants themselves look as lovely as the flowers look cut??  If I can’t figure it out, I may start giving away some of my peony plants for next year.  I don’t want to rid the yard of them completely, however for a yard this size, so many drooping peonies aren’t giving off the best vibe! (Do you see the pathetic scrawny one to its side?)

If you have experience with peonies, PLEASE leave me comments telling me what I’m doing wrong and how I can make my garden happy next year!

Nuptial Nostalgia: Stationary

10 Jun

This is the last in the Nuptial Nostalgia series (for now).  If you missed the others, check them out here and here.


I like to think that I’m a Jack Jane of all trades when it comes to design.  I may not have skills perfected (at all), but I like to dabble in everything.  When it comes to weddings, a few dormant sides of my personality get awakened.

First of all, there’s the stylist/event planner.  I always forget about her, but she popped back up while with a friend on her first trip to try on wedding dresses.  I felt like I was one of the consultants on Say Yes to the Dress- “try this one, I know you wouldn’t have grabbed it, but trust me.” (p.s. I was mostly right)

Another side of my personality that resurfaces with weddings is the graphic/stationary designer.  It all started with my sister’s wedding in ’07 when I designed her invites.  Then, I may have gone a little stationary crazy for my own wedding on ’09 (don’t you say a word B!).  Despite my craziness, I am still SO proud of what I created for my old Hollywood/Theater themed wedding that I’m excited to share with you!

Save the Date Tickets:

Ticket Save the Date


Yeah, I know.  I’m not the photographer in the family.  I can barely figure out this camera most days.

Playbill Wedding Programs:

I don’t think I would change a single thing about any of my creations, especially the Playbill.  I modeled it after an actual Playbill and I think I was able to make one that fit our personalities and wedding perfectly!  I was beyond thrilled with everything about them from my custom silhouette front to the ‘cast’ bios and the history of our wedding site (not shown).

AND in lieu of a favor, with their thank you notes, the guests received this CD of the live swing band at our wedding.  I tell myself at least a few of them actually listened to it at least once (hopefully).

What did I ever do before Photoshop and InDesign?!

If you want more info on how I created something specific, just ask.

Big Girl Blog

8 Jun

Hopefully there will be some BIG changes in the next few months here on A Year of Strategic Serendipity.  This blog is growing up and is going to graduate from

I just purchased the domain and hosting for!

It’ll take me a bit to get everything transferred from here and get it to be New, Improved, & Perfect before it goes live, but I’m so excited!!!


I’m not going to lie- I’m a little overwhelmed with where to go from here: blog, career, house projects and life in general.  As I’ve mentioned before, I’m solar powered, so the nice weather makes me want to get out there and DO.  I’m just not sure what to DO first.  I think before I take on more projects, I need to finish those already in the pipeline: bedroom curtains, veggie garden… (and make sure to take enough pictures to show you along the way)

Before I over think everything, I just need to slow down and stop to smell the roses peonies.

Garden Peonies in Vintage Mason Jar