Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Sometimes You've Got To Wear Your Heart On Your Sleeve

My son has been on vacation in California and, for the first time in a long time, I feel like I am wearing my heart on my sleeve. When he returns home, though, I can return my heart to its rightful place and instead, bling up my sleeve with my new bracelet cuff.

I saw that Caja Jewelry (most recently known for their nameplate necklaces featured on the models in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition) was doing bracelet cuffs, even seeing one that say "The Countess." It got me thinking. Could they do one for me that says "Domestic Goddess"? Apparently they can. They hand draw each piece and send it to the buyer for changes or approval before they hand cut the piece with a jeweler's saw.

I placed an order for my bracelet, and recently got the drawing back, for approval, before they make the bracelet. I love it. Check it out, and see their facebook page to see how the final products look.
Of course, I love it (what's not to love), and I am anxiously awaiting my order. It's not quite wearing my heart on my sleeve, but it sure is pretty.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Menopause at 41 (yes, 41) and How I'm Getting Through

While watching Ramona on the RHONY wonder if, at 54 years old, she is pregnant, I almost laughed. Sure it's possible, but it's far more likely that, as Jill Zarin put it, "menopause is knocking."

I've had irregular periods since I was in my mid-30's. When I was 36, I remember my midwife telling me that I was in perimenopause and that I should start using progesterone cream. I did for a while, and everyone around me though that I was crazy, far too young to be in menopause. Every year, I had endometrial biopsies done to make sure I didn't have cancer. Blood work was run and was always inconclusive. Until this year.

After the usual pap and biopsy, and everything coming back clear, I requested that blood work be repeated. Sure enough my FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) was high, indicating that I am in early menopause.  While I don't miss having my period (it's been almost 4 months), there are things that come along with menopause that need to be managed.

That ringing in my ear that they thought was Meniere's is probably due to the fluctuation of my hormones. And there's hot flashes, tons of them, and heightened anxiety. The good news is that all of this can be managed. I started taking a low dose of alprazolam on an as needed basis, which does wonders for limiting both my anxiety and the tinnitus. Do you know that they prescribe it for tinnitus to lessen the symptoms? I am taking Black Cohosh 40 mg, twice per day, as suggested to me by W's aunt. I am also taking a multivitamin with CoQ10. For the hot flashes and dryer skin, I was at a loss. Having 30+ hot flashes a day was uncomfortable and kept me up most nights. My friends, DT and HTH told me to try acupuncture. DT and her friends used acupuncture to manage menopausal symptoms, while HTH used it for other things, with amazing success. Both shared their acupuncturists' names, and while I highly trust my friend HTH's recommendations, I didn't want to go to the city especially when I knew that I had a acupuncturist locally that I loved.

I returned to Balance Acupuncture, where I'd gone last year and really enjoyed the treatments. I told her my symptoms and she explained certain points that she was treating. Two, near the eyebrow, help regulate body temperature, and are my favorite points so far. After the first treatment, the hot flashes minimized. After the second, they were less than half as often as before, and after the third treatment, I've only had two and they've been minor.

I also noticed that, when menopause started, I began waking up in the morning feeling devoid of joy. I mentioned this to her at my appointment yesterday, so she did some points to help with that. Fire points (I can't really explain it in a way that I could be sure is correct). This morning, the first morning following my appointment, I woke up feeling clear minded and joyful (as joyful as I've ever been at 8:30 a.m.) I swear, I am becoming addicted to acupuncture.

And all this acupuncture is making me want to return to yoga, to inner peace and balance. I think I still have some sessions left on my account. I haven't been working out at all, though my mind keeps going back to yoga. Prana Yoga Center is on my mind.

If you are going through menopause, know that you are not alone, and that HRT isn't the only option (although I've read that bio identical HRT is better than classic HRT). Try acupuncture from someone who has been recommended to you.

I highly recommend Balance Acupuncture, so if you live in the area, call for your appointment. There is street parking right out front, and once you walk in, you will feel the positive energy. The space, too, is just beautiful. Most of all, Susannah Pitman, is a warm person who listens, pays attention, and is wonderful at doing acupuncture.

Balance Acupuncture is at 1000 Main Street in Boonton. You can reach her at (973) 257-8924. Tell her the Domestic Goddess sent you.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Made For Me Flea Market Find

Okay, so maybe this flea market find wasn't actually made for me. It's even likely that it was made before I was born.

I was going to garage sales and one special flea market last month with Em, when I came upon this... this thing. It was yellow, the color that I use as an accent in my kitchen and dining room, and it had tons of drawers.

"How much?" I ask the man sitting behind the table. He looked at me and quacked, "Whaah?" Clearly he couldn't hear me. I asked louder and gestured to the fact that I couldn't find a price. He said something to the effect of hang on, and got his wife for me.

"Twenty bucks!" she yelled. "I love this thing. Holds everything. You put your tea in here, coffee here, cookies up top..." and while she was showing me the drawers, I said, "I don't think I will be putting cookies in there", to which she responded, "Well, it could be a great place to store your weed!"

I don't smoke weed, but it was pretty funny. She must have been in her 70s and I just don't think of 70 year old flea market sellers smoking weed. Still, the story was too good not to tell.

The drawers are very worn, so I lined them with paper and use them to store sealed tea bags, vitamin bottles, and essential oil hand wipes. I took it home, put it exactly where I wanted it to go, and it fits perfectly. Looks great with my new counter tops, too.

It's been in my kitchen about a month now, and every time I see it or use it, I smile.

Flea market find stores tons and looks amazing. The Ehlers coffee tin
is from Between Friends, a secondhand store in Denville, and stores my coffee. The coffee scoop
is from Riverwood Trading Co. on etsy. The cute frog (piggy) bank was a gift for
my son from his friend, Annie B. in kindergarten. I have loved it ever since.
I love that the Ehlers coffee tin originally held coffee and continues to serve the same function all these years later. I wanted a pretty coffee scoop, since it sits on top of the tin and is visible all day long. I searched until I found a beautiful hand-carved scoop made from cherry wood. It's done by an artisan in Pennsylvania, and he runs a shop called Riverwood Trading Co. I just checked the listing for the link, and it's price is reduced to $10. It's really beautiful. I suggest that you get yourself one.

There's one other thing that I want to show you. Well, two. A pig, it's a vintage pitcher, that I picked up at a store nearby called Maison Decor this past spring. I don't use him; I keep him out as joyful decoration. And to the right is an ice crusher that my sister-in-law Colleen got me from her friend's store for my birthday. I love it, and it works!

Piggie pitcher and ice crusher. Love.

Heading to Savannah Hope Vintage soon to visit ADeM and check out some of her new stuff. Getting the pendant light that I got there rewired and hung soon, so expect to hear about that...

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

What Matters Most

It's funny how, for some, a summer with children home is a task and for others, it's a reward. While I admit that it requires more juggling and, well, it's hotter, I've found that this summer, the time I've gotten to spend with the kids has been such a gift.

I have spent a large part of the past few weeks with the kids. They successfully finished the first in the series of Skeleton Creek books, and are on to book two. We each take a turn reading aloud, each of the kids, and me, too, and every so often, we get a link to watch a video (that goes with the book). It's a mystery, and there is a supposed ghost in the story. Personally, I think that the ghost is a man, Ranger Bonner, trying to scare the kids off. Anyhow, they are reading and loving it. Along with the book, they are each writing their own mystery in the same format as the book's, a personal journal format. I made each of them book club cards with their photos on them, and after they complete a book, I am punching a hole in it. There are four books in all, and we plan to read them. It's not a chore to get the kids to read, which is like heaven for someone like me, who loves to read.

We've also spent time swimming, barbecuing, and going for ice cream (a summer tradition). Today, however, was extra special for me. I got to take the kids to a place called Monster Mini Golf, which is an indoor mini-golf area that has fluorescent monsters and other creatures inside. Most importantly, on this 97* day, it was air-conditioned. The kids had a blast, with every white part of their clothes glowing (including some glow in the dark silly bands that we wore), making the holes in variations from one stroke to 10. Afterward, they played some video games, and then we went for lunch at the restaurant next door. It's an Italian restaurant called Cucina Calandra that has a brick oven for pizza, and the kids get to go up to the pizza man, Henry, and order fun shaped pizza. Spongebob. Mickey Mouse. There are many options. Both of the girls chose peace signs, and Johnny had a plain pie from which we all ended up stealing slices.

All throughout the day, I kept thinking about how fortunate I am to spend this kind of time with the kids. One day, when they are older, they will choose to spend their time elsewhere, with their friends or at their jobs, wherever. I feel blessed and am grateful for every moment that I have with them now.

Monday, July 18, 2011

If You've Got the Thyme, Dash to Denville

I like local, independent stores and restaurants. I will go to a chain, like Whole Foods, if necessary, but generally I try to support businesses that are doing it on their own. After hearing from my friend KScorna about a new store that was opening in a neighboring town (Denville), I really wanted to check it out.

It took a few weeks for me to get there. The kids' schedules have been crazy, to the point that summer seems more stressful than the school year, at least in terms of scheduling. Our weekends have been busy with endless plans, and I hadn't really found myself in a position to check out this new store. Until today.

W and I really needed a day to relax and be alone, to really have no schedule and do whatever we pleased, just the two of us. The only part of our day that was scheduled was a new installation of his photography that we were going to put up at the Atlantic Rehabilitation Institute in Morristown. (You must check it out, btw. It's amazing.) We've done this quiet a few times together, and working as a team is both fun and rewarding, so it doesn't really feel like work. Before hanging the photographs, we had an early morning breakfast at our favorite spot, Pete's Denville Diner, and I happened to notice that the new store I'd wanted to check out, that is located just down the street from the diner, was open. They open at 9 a.m. on Sunday, which is a smart business move since so many people go for breakfast and coffee downtown on the weekend.

Dash of Thyme is a cozy yet airy space full of fun stuff for foodies. It is owned by two friends, one of whom was at the store this morning. Dash is packed with different types of seasonings from Chef Jim (I got the Jamaican Jerk blend), and various sauces and spreads. Today, they were sampling Stonewall Kitchen's Blueberry Jam. In addition, they have packaged sweets, most of which were unfamiliar to me, which makes it all the more exciting.

I can't pass up anything made with goat milk. Got a package of these
goat milk caramels made with chocolate, and sea salt. W and I both really enjoyed them.

What I especially love is that they have a giant vat of extra virgin olive oil in the store, with a spout attached for pouring. If you choose to buy the olive oil, they fill an empty glass bottle while you wait, and then when you run out, you bring the bottle back for a refill, at a slightly lesser cost (I believe refills are $12.95). It's fresh, fun, and eco-friendly.

They also sell kitchen decor, so even if you aren't a big cook, there's fun stuff for you. The have cool coffee mugs that have a spoon slot in the handle, and a ceramic spoon place inside of it. Great for those who add milk and sugar to their coffee. They have plates, serving trays, baskets, aprons, kitchen signs. My kitchen is done for now, but I did see something I couldn't pass up. They have a display overflowing with reusable bags, both snack size and sandwich size, in the coolest patterns. The bag material feels something like oil cloth (not sure what it is), and is dishwasher safe.

Check out my fun find from Dash of Thyme. This Lunchskins
reusable bag even has a spot designated for the user's name.

The Lunchskins bags are very cute and functional. I got the shark design, so I have a fun way to carry around my peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. It was between that and a cool crab pattern. I may have to go back for the crab pattern this week, since I can't stop thinking about it.

I didn't stay too long, as W was waiting and we had a show to hang, but I will definitely be revisiting the store. Locals should check it out. It's at 49 Broadway, to the right of where the Fireside used to be. Tell them the Domestic Goddess sent you.

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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

I Wear My Heart On My Sleeve aka: His Name Around My Neck

I have few guilty pleasures. One of them, however, is watching the Real Housewives of New York. While there is nothing real about that lifestyle to me -- I mean, my life consists of carting kids around, cooking, vacuuming, watering plants, and visiting the grocery store -- it's a wildly grand escape. I'm not a Housewives series fan, but the New York version is just impossible for me not to watch. To begin with, I find the childish antics of the blondes (Ramona, SonJA!, and Alex) to be hilarious. I mean, are they for real? They really show the very worst sides of themselves. I watch as they get random plumping and freezing at the dermotologist's office which both horrifies and captivates me (the only thing worse than Botox, to me, is plastic surgery). They throw hissy fits and start fights, and piss on people like they own the damn city. I'd never want to be in their actual presence, but watching them make fools of themselves sure makes for a good laugh.

The non-blondes, though, I do like.

Three non-blondes: Jill, Luann, and Kelly

I love that Kelly Killoren Bensimon. She's gorgeous, hilarious, and always dresses perfectly. Um, as a house(ex)wife, I can say that I rarely pull myself together, and never that well. It's aspirational. There is Jill Zarin, who I just want to hug, hug, hug and applaud for being honest and outspoken, and just so lovable. And there's the Countess. "Ladies and Gentlemen, this is the Countess speaking... we have arrived." Oh, gorgeous and well-spoken, and I must say that a certain someone who shall remain nameless has one hell of a crush on her. I refuse to share his name, or his secret will be out, and I promised never to out him.


A couple of months ago, I saw these insane nameplate necklaces on all of the models in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition. I tracked down the shop that makes them, Caja Jewelry, and had one made for myself. Mine has both my name and W's. I have it so that his name's on top of mine.

My nameplate by Caja Jewelry. I wear it most days, and only take it off when I am going in the water.
Can you say awesome?

I recently went to the Caja Jewelry facebook page and saw that they are making bracelets (cuffs) with the names carved out, to match the necklace. I wanted to get one for myself. I couldn't find purchasing information, so I kept scrolling through the photos trying to find a link or a price and fell upon this...

Caja Jewelry made this cuff, "The Countess". Could it be for Luann  de Lesseps? I pulled this photo
off of the Caja Jewelry facebook page. Can't wait to shop for it online.

Omigod. The Countess. As in Luann? It must be. Luann, if you are reading this, you MUST purchase this cuff. It was made for you! At least I think it was... On second though, maybe I will get it for myself. And if not, perhaps they will make me a Domestic Goddess version. I will keep you posted.

Shop for your own personalized creation either at their etsy shop or online at

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Because etsy can do anything...

It's been a busy few weeks here in the kitchen. I had new granite countertops installed, replacing the old green formica. I bought and assembled four counter stools so that Johnny, Em, Mol and W can sit at the counter to watch me cook, or have a place to eat, do homework, or whatever. With that came a new sink, and plumbing work, and then I found a new (old, but new to me) killer light, and then received my custom made table.

With all this, Andrea at Savannah Hope Vintage found me a new pendant lamp that almost perfectly matches the one she found me for my hallway, so once that's wired and hung, the kitchen will be perfect! As soon as that's done, I will post a photo for you all to see.

But first, the table. I wanted a nice kitchen table, that was small enough to fit in the space in my kitchen that allows us to eat in. We have been eating at a table that served us well, though it was poorly made. We got it at Kmart, about 7 years ago, following my divorce. It was a white circular table about 36" in diameter, made from particle board, I believe. At tag sales, we found mismatched wooden chairs, one with a rush seat the other with wacky black plastic seats, so we put cushions on them. I always loved the chairs, but wanted a table that was solid. For about three years, I've been looking to replace it, though there are few tables that are that small. I searched etsy and found a number of woodworkers that made tables. I wanted something affordable and made to my specifications. I tried a local guy, from Brooklyn, who never responded to my inquiries. There were a handful of others, but in the end, I found a shop that was family run, would work to my specifications, and priced right.

Blueridge Woodworking in North Carolina, run by a husband and wife team, made my table the exact size I wanted, and finished it with an eco friendly, low VOC finish (per my request and for a small additional charge). I chose Durostain in Cedar. The table came with easy assembly instructions, pre-drilled holes, nuts, bolts, and washers. I put the table together, then realized I couldn't squeeze it in through the kitchen entryway. I had to take it apart and reassemble it in the kitchen. And still, it was easy. The table is rock solid, and Blueridge even sent those little felt rounds that stick to the bottom of the table to protect the floor. (I didn't use them, dragged the table across the wood floor, and had no problem. Though I do appreciate that they were included.) 

The table is much more beautiful than I could have possibly envisioned, and I am so happy that I chose to have Blueridge Woodworking make it for me. I can't wait to eat at it, have the kids do homework there, and let daily living bruise it up and tell our story. Check it out. The photo doesn't do it justice.

My custom made table. All wood. Handmade in North Carolina by Blueridge Woodworking.

Now, since I seem to be working backward from most recent... I found the greatest vintage lakeshore dock light at the etsy shop Saffron Colored Pony. The listing (I was searching for pendant lights that plug into the wall) said, "Large rusty patina cover of metal with stems running down to enclose the sea glass green large glass bottle. Newly wired, with an on/off switch in the cord. cord is 10 ft. long. discovered this in a small town on Lake Huron on one of my many drives in the Thumb." While I am not sure where the Thumb is, I love that this was found vintage, and was rewired. Perfect.

I started by hanging it over my countertop in the kitchen, but being over 43" around, and 18" tall, it was too big for the spot, so I moved it to my dining room (and got that other pendant light from Savannah Hope Vintage for the kitchen spot). I fell in love with this the minute I saw the listing, but it wasn't cheap, so I kept trying to find others. I kept coming back to it. And every single day since I received it, I've fallen for it just a little harder. Worth every penny.

Vintage lakeshore dock light from Saffron Colored Pony.
Painting on top right, "On the Rocks" is by fine artist Laurie Harden. Palm tree painting below was a tag sale find. 

But what started the kitchen overhaul was the granite. Actually, I had the three layers of linoleum ripped out of the kitchen and family room (and some old carpet, too) and replaced with hardwood floors a few years ago, then got my amazing sideboard from Savannah Hope Vintage, which just raised the standards of the kitchen to a whole new level. But until that formica was removed, the kitchen just wasn't working. My brother told me about a company that turns the work around in three days, and allows you to pick your own slab of granite and see where it will be cut, All Granite and Marble. This allowed me to choose the swirls and markings that I liked. The granite I picked was a game changer.

Beautiful yellowish/sand colored granite with flecks of gold and swirls of brown. 

While I did have to have the water shut off, the formica ripped out, the cabinets leveled, and a handful of other nonsense, leaving me without hot water for a week, it was so worth it. My kitchen looks brand new. The only two things that remain old are the stove and the cabinets. And for now, that stuff is going to stay. 

Tonight, I am going to bed so very happy. Though I am working through some health issues (thanks to some herbal supplements and acupuncture), I feel content with the knowledge that my kitchen, finally, is the kitchen of my dreams.