Saturday, October 20, 2007

Shopping Addictions

Okay.. while many people would expect me to only shop at Macy's or Kmart (because of the Martha Stewart merchandise), I have to admit one of my all time favorite shopping destinations is Pottery Barn.

Whether it's cozy-ing up on the couch with the latest catalog release, or walking through the store touching nearly every item - I can't stop myself from loving Pottery Barn.

The catalog actually provides a great deal of inspiration to me. While I'm naturally talented at combining color, textures, and room arrangements - I lack the 'finishing skills' of beautiful accessorizing and tablescapes. It just never looks 'complete' to me. Pottery Barn catalogs have often provided the insight I needed to give a room the final 'touch.'
The picture shown here is a fine example of the PB inspiration. I love the 'collection' elements of this type of styling. The repeated use of books and the drab ware color tie it all together. The large bowl filled with artichokes provide texture and the faux bois candles bring in the 'natural' elements of the outdoors. I love the look.
I'm a firm believer that anyone with some sense of style and design can take an image such as this and do what I call "use what you got-decorating." I feel a project coming on!

A True Hero

While there are thousands of military personnel that lay their lives on the line each and every day, I have a personal hero. Maj. Phillip McIntire. To me he's just 'Phil;' but to so many children in Iraq he's an angel.

I had the pleasure of getting to know Phil prior to his tour of duty in Iraq. He's an employee of our parent company Trinity Health and served as a corporate consultant as we developed a new department in our health system.

As the situation in Iraq intensified Phil was called to serve as a Major in the Army Reserves. With pride and yet a great deal of fear for his safety his colleagues at Trinity Health bid him farewell praying for his safe and quick return.

Employees of Trinity Health supported Phil and his family throughout the duration of his service. We frequently collected money, bought holiday gifts, paid for home repairs, paid for home maintenance services and the list goes on and on. We wanted Phil to concentrate on staying safe, not having to worry about his family at home. It was our turn to support Phil as he always supported us in a variety of professional roles.

During his time in Iraq, Phil and his men were fighting furiously each and every day. Through the battles, Phil and his men saw that more needed to be done. The military action was only accomplishing 'part' of the mission.. there were children who needed so much more.

Phil and his men during their off hours supported numerous children in war torn Iraq. Their secondary mission, which was a personal mission, became about the children and families. Through a variety of initiatives they provided education, recreation, and support to the families they 'adopted.' They assisted with the necessities of life that provided a greater sense of security to these families that lived with daily violence. Phil and his men wanted to bring a greater sense of security to these families... especially the children.

Phil did return safely after his extended tour. Trinity Health was waiting for him with open arms and he is now back to work.

Phils life changing experiences on the front lines in Iraq have now provided Phil with a new mission: Sharing his story. Phil spends his own personal time doing presentations at local churches, civic organizatons and throughout Trinity Health. His message is one not of all the violence, but the hope. His message is about going the extra mile to do what in your heart you know is the right thing. His message is about mentoring children, mentoring families on how to have a better life. His message is about compassion.

It will be my honor on November 15 to introduce Phil to members of our health system when he shares his story during a 'lunch and learn' program.
Regardless of ones 'politics,' it is easy to be proud of a man like Phil.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Family Matters

Okay, so I'm a proud 'parent.' I have four wonderful 'kids' that bring so much happiness into my life. I'm speaking of my four cats, Martha, Riko, Cinnamon, and Sirius.

Martha is the queen of the household. She was born in a horse barn and absolutely hated being outdoors. Our friends Charlie and Laurie would do their very best to keep Martha outside (where they thought she belonged) but she wasn't having any part of it. During a visit, Martha came right to me and batted her beautiful eyes. I scooped her up into my arms and the rest is history. I knew I had to have this cat!

Riko is a rescue cat. He was one of the first 'residents' of Friends of Michigan Animals Rescue when the rescue was still operated out of the home of Pete and Marcy LaFramboise. (my in-laws) Riko had a pretty rough childhood until he was brought to the rescue. He lived in the engine of an old van. The owners of the van decided to do some work and make the van operational again only to find Riko living in the engine area. When they started the van, Riko was shaken and slightly injured. He was taken to the rescue to receive necessary medical attention and hopefully find a home. A home he did indeed find! He is the mirror image of my long time friend Spooky who was laid to rest after a brief battle with stomach cancer. Through his first year, Riko had several medical problems. He's now healthy, (you can see by his size he's a bit "too" healthy!) and living the good life.

Cinnamon was another rescue cat. She was born in a household of a woman that had well over 40 cats that she couldn't afford to take care of. Cinnamon (as well as most of the other 40) was rescued and she was very sick. She was very frail and had an awful eye infection that matted her eyes shut for weeks. I would go to the rescue and I could hold Cinnamon in the palm of my hand. She was so tiny. Pete and Marcy nursed her back to health and we adopted her into our home. Cinnamon had an eating disorder. She would literally eat anything and everything in sight. The Vet told us that it was her way of survival since she never knew if the food would be available again. She would go for days on end and not eat at her previous home. Being the weakest and smallest cat the others would push her out of the way and she would go hungry. She certainly isn't hungry any longer! She is now (along with Riko) on a weight management program to reduce the waistline a bit! She's a big girl but she's the most dainty cat I've ever met. She's quite a lady.

Sirius is the newest member of our family and he is the 'wild child.' He was born to a stray cat that was taken in and thought to be a male. (hmmmmmm) As the stray began to grow, it was realized that 'he' was a 'she' and 'she' was going to have a rather large litter of kittens. Indeed she did. She gave birth to six beautiful kittens who have all found homes through the animal rescue. Sirius is named obviously after the Sirius satellite radio. I had never dealt with newborn kittens before and used to call into Tracie Hotchner the host of "Cat Chat" on Martha Stewart Living Radio for advice. She walked me through the care of the kittens as they were growing up and getting of age to be taken to the rescue.

All of our kids have their own unique personalities. No two are alike! It does get a bit crowded in bed sometimes when everyone decides to grab a place on the bed to sleep! In their own way they like to 'help' us when we are working on a project around the house. Have you ever tried to paint and keep four cats out of the roller pan at the same time?! It can often be a challenge!

They each have their own stocking at Christmas and Santa is very good to them. We'll be adding a stocking for Sirius this year. Our first Christmas with him. This could be interesting with his energy level and a well decorated tree! You do the math. It's a recipe for potential disaster!

Monday, October 15, 2007

All That Glitters

Inspiration a la Martha! (and Claudine!) I whipped out my glue (Martha Stewart Crafts glitter glue of course!) and my glitter and started the process of glittering a few small jack-be-little pumpkins. It's a very easy craft that lends a certain 'sparkle' to your holiday! When the light catches them 'just so' they glimmer like jewels!