Thursday, November 30, 2017

Meeting Elin Hilderbrand

Meeting Elin Hilderbrand

I know...I know...dream come true.  She is one of my favorite authors of all time.  Just reading her stories...all set in one of my favorite places in the world...Nantucket...just puts you in a calm state.  Her books also always inspire me to get back to the beach....enjoy it year round...take in the beauty and live like the locals do...eventually I will make my way there 100% of the time...but for now...her books...are a wonderful escape and full of inspirational material.

She has written over 20 novels...20.  I have tried to meet her before, however, her events always sell out so quickly.

I was excited recently when I saw on Facebook that she was coming to the public library in the nearby town of Methuen.  I thought ok...here is my chance...I went to get tickets and I was out of luck...all sold out.

A couple of my PTA friends noticed that I was interested in the event...and they were too...they struggled to get the tickets too and then our friend Lisa is really good at researching and not taking NO for an answer and she scored us tickets to her Boston event at the Hampshire House and BONUS...they were FREE...I kid you not!  Elin, herself, explained to us why a little later on...we will get back to that.

Lisa drove us in to the city (Boston) on Monday night and we hit no traffic until Storrow Drive which is pretty typical, but all in all we were in there in less than an hour.  Once we parked, we went in and realized we were super early so we decided to head downstairs to the famous Cheers for a quick drink.  We even grabbed a pedestrian to take our picture outside...like REAL tourists ;)
After a quick drink and some catching up, we headed back to the Hampshire House.  We were waiting in line, in the lobby, to buy her latest book, "Winter Soltice" (it is Book #4 in a 4 part series) when all of a sudden we got to the front of the line, to make our purchases and Elin sits down right in front of us and just starts signing.  I lost my breath...she was trying to fly under the radar but she gave us a heart attack doing so.  It was hysterical and surreal all at once.  She grabbed my book, signed it and promised we would get pictures together once she made her way upstairs to the main event.

I, of course, had to snap a couple of quick pics because it's me ;)

She was spicy, confidant, friendly and just amazing all around...and I could tell she was such a hoot...I was looking forward to hearing her speak and read!

We headed upstairs where we were treated to complimentary hors d'ouevres in the beautiful venue which was in a room that looked like a large library complete with beautiful and ornate chandeliers...thousands of books and floor to ceiling windows so customary of Beacon Hill- Boston.

We chatted for a bit and met another friend from town there.  Once Elin made her way upstairs, she headed straight to our table and said, "I promised you pictures...let's go!" She was so funny...
Check it out....

She actually gave her cell number to our friend Lisa and asked her to text her the picture of us- SO FUN!
She stayed with us and chatted for a bit and when we asked her how this amazing event could be free, she explained that she has known the owner, Thomas Kershaw for several years and he always hosts an event for her every year when her new book comes out.  She actually publishes two books/year.  He has owned the Hampshire House since 1969.

You may not be able to tell from the pictures but she was wearing a fabulous dress that is so perfect for this time of year...green silk with a black leather fringe overlay and the most beautiful and ornate spiked heels with snakes on them- the outfit?  To die for!  I told her so and she appreciated it :)

After she mingled a bit, Mr. Kershaw himself introduced her and she took the podium and regaled us with some funny tales and then read the first chapter from her new book.  We hung on every word...chuckled and truly enjoyed it...it is making me read the first three books in the series rather quickly so I can get to this finale! 

It was an amazing little event and I am so glad I was able to meet this literary legend.  Her books are so light...easy to read...and always put me in a happy place. 

Her novels include the following, in order of when they were published:

The Castaways
The Beach Club
Nantucket Nights
Summer People
The Blue Bistro
The Love Season
A Summer Affair
The Island
Silver Girl
Beautiful Day
The Surfing Lesson
The Matchmaker
The Tailgate
Winter Street
The Rumor
Winter Stroll
Christmas on Nantucket
Here's To Us
Winter Storms
The Identicals and
Winter Soltice

Next up....The Perfect Couple (next year and it is a murder mystery!  How exciting!) 

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Blind Faith

So yesterday was the worst day I have had in several years.  I keep things very positive here on the blog but today I felt the need to write.  Writing has always been therapeutic for me and often times, the best way for me to express myself.

Yesterday morning, I was so pumped up to get to the office.  I had just made a placement before Thanksgiving and I celebrate every small victory after a tough year...I felt this was my way out of the hole and the beginning of another productive season and hopefully prosperous 2018.  I left the house and told Rob, "I am ready to rock this day!" We both laughed...I don't know what inspired me to say that at that moment but I felt it and I was excited.

I think God had other plans.  On my way to work, I was pulled over for speeding.  Yep!  The officer was adorable (totally unrelated) and only gave me a warning.  I slowed right down the rest of the way and felt so grateful for not getting a ticket...a few days before the money pit of a trip to Orlando and a month before Christmas...I thanked God and knew someone was watching out for me.

Once I got to the office I got organized for my day and then my boss came in.  I always enjoy our morning chats but yesterday wasn't as pleasant...and I will leave it at that.  Things next year are changing...I don't know what that will mean for me but I'm keeping the faith as I always do.  It was very hard to stay calm and positive though...I have been trying to do that all year despite so many challenges....and at this point I feel like crying UNCLE.  Sometimes just when you don't think things can get worse...they somehow do.

BUT...as many people who know me will tell you...and as you have witnessed in this blog...I remain positive...I have to...that is my choice and that is the way I choose to live.  I know everything is in God's hands and I pray that he protects us.  

I just ask for extra prayers right now.  If you are not the religious type, I totally get it...but I know several of my blogging friends in this community are...just ask you to pray to make it all ok.

After work, I raced home to get Diana to cheer practice and then last night I realized my girls were not themselves....Rob took them to the Walk In for me as I was toast after yesterday.  They both have strep throat...ugh....remember I was ready to call UNCLE 12 hours earlier?  Yep!

Just happy that today is a new day...I can try and keep the faith all over again.  It has been a tough year here...business wise...and during those times...I feel guilty even more than my typical Italian Catholic self....but I press on.
As I was reading one of my daily devotionals this morning,  I was struck by one of the passages about living a balanced life...not feeling guilty about resting. This year...there has been no rest for me....I worked over 40+ hours/week trying to get ahead...and despite my husband reminding me not "to press"...I just somehow kept doing that.  I always feel guilty even when I need to take a quick power nap on the weekends...I bounce up because I am afraid I am letting someone down.

I am going to try to live by the word...this is what jumped out at me this morning.  "Trust in Him: Some people feel guilty anytime they try to rest, but that guilty feeling is not from God.  God wants us to live balanced lives, and if we don't, we open a door for the devil to bring some kind of destruction (see Peter 5.8). Trust God that your resting time is just as valuable as your working time." Joyce Meyer 

And so I press on...in a good way though....thank you for listening...

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Show and Tell Tuesday: Want, Need, Wear, Read Edition

It's time for another fun linkup with Andrea.  Linking up HERE

It is fun to play along this week, as we talk about our Christmas list.  We started following this concept last year and it is called "Four Gifts."  Everyone gets...
Something They Want
Something They Need
Something To Wear and
Something to Read....

We really just follow this for the kiddos and I am glad we do....

This list, for me, is just a fantasy because we do not exchange gifts....and especially this year....
so let's have some fun...here it goes....

Something I Want

A Family Vacation..with just my mini fam...the years are going by so fast and we always try to include everyone in our plans so we don't hurt anyone's feelings but for once, I would love to just take off for a warm place and relax with my hubby and littles...in the sun....on the beach...with a great book and not have to worry about anything...even for a few days...that sounds like heaven to me :)

Something I Need

A Window Washer...we need our windows washed...we have so many and some are pretty high...yes that is what I would pick for a need

Something To Wear

Ummm....anything Lilly...shocker right?

Something To Read

Anything by Elin Hilderbrand or Jennifer Weiner...that is, anything I haven't read of theirs yet!  (and Side Note: I met Elin Hilderbrand last night and it was amazing!  Stay tuned for a separate post this week!)

Wow...that was fun...can't wait to see your lists!

Monday, November 27, 2017

Thanksgiving Weekend 2017!

Wow!  What a whirlwind!  We just got off one of the most fun weekends of all time.  I love this time of year- full of tradition....family...friends...and lots of QT.  This year was very special for different reasons...here is a little look....


Diana and I met the Fournier gals for breakfast- a tradition we started a few years ago.  It is always fun and the perfect way to kick off the long holiday weekend!

Then it was time to head to Coleen's for her 2nd Annual Friendsgiving- the kids run around and get wild before they settle down to eat a bit and the moms stand in the kitchen with a mimosa and catch up.  My favorite part?  Watching Coleen cook...she always entertains me!

Then it was time to head home and get some work done and I actually made a placement! It always feels good to get something big accomplished before a holiday weekend!  A few hours later, I started prepping for the evening's festivities and got a few side dishes made for Turkey Day.

Wednesday night, on Thanksgiving Eve, we had our open house.  We started this tradition last year and knew we would  continue it.  It is so fun and laid back- friends and family join us for live music (courtesy of Rob's band), food and fun!  This year did not disappoint- we all had a blast!

Before our guests arrived, we posed for our family  Christmas Card pics- thanks to my Father In Law, I think we got a cute and funny shot to use for this year's card.  Here is one of our outtakes and a "normal" family shot...well as normal as we will ever get ;)

and then for the festivities.....

Thursday- Thanksgiving Day

We started with our traditional family breakfast.....

and then headed to the Annual Turkey Trot in town...felt so good to be out in the fresh air and get our metabolism going for the day! :)

After that, we headed home and I got our big meal together!  The big kids headed out to their mom's and my parents and brother joined us at home with the littles and my father in law.

A beautiful turkey bread compliments of my bestie Jill- AND it was just as delicious as it was beautiful!  (and cute right?)

 My Mother In Law was not strong enough to make it up for dinner but my family got to visit with her and that warmed my heart.

That night, we settled in for our first viewing this year of National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation...it was a cozy way to end our wonderful holiday!

Black Friday

Oh yes.  Cass and I did not skip a beat.  We met at 5:15 and hit the road!  We are such rebels....ha ha!!!
First stop, as always, is Starbucks to get fueled up!

and then my favorite stop, Old Navy.
Old Navy always has the best prices but on Black Friday, they always have 50% off the entire story- I kid you not.  I was happy to find gifts for my Dad, Father In Law and Zach.

Then we added a stop because the girls needed tights and I forgot until the last minute.  So...we battled the crowds at Target just for tights...needed to snap a pic...because Cass is so good to me :)

After that, we hit Christmas Tree Shop for some odds and ends...always a great place to grab gift tags, wrapping paper and such.  Then our final destination- the mall.  Not my favorite place BUT you cannot go wrong with the sales on this day.

We hit Build A Bear, Justice and Abercrombie.  Cass is always good about having a list and getting things to check off- I was just along for the ride this year (yeah the Florida trip and all- UGH!) We also hit Macy's and then Lord and Taylor on our way out AND scored dresses for soooo cheap for the Bat Mitzvah the following day AND to wear all season long...I felt like that was the best purchase of the day...again only deals you would find on Black Friday.

Then we unwound with cocktails and apps...we made our rounds because the new Copper Door wasn't opening until 11:30 and we knew we wanted to hit it.  So...we started at Tuscan Market to kill some time and then headed over to CD.  It has been one of our faves in Bedford and they just opened right next door in Salem and it is just as great- perfect decor, service and food and libations.  

Cranberry Proseccos at Tuscan Market

and all the fun at Copper Door

After that, it was time to head home and get Diana's hair and makeup done for dress rehearsal for the Nutcracker.  "Auntie Cass" stayed to watch the process ;)

Then it was early to bed!   


It was time for Julia's Bat Mitzvah and we all were honored to be included in her special day.  We got to spend quality time with friends and enjoy all of the ceremony and festivities at the reception.  What a wonderful time! 

and Pidge was the BIGGEST fan of the photo booth- so fun! :)

and she TORE UP the dance floor ;)
Exhibit A
When we got home, Mama did Diana's curlers for the last time then went right to bed, Daddy headed out to a gig and the girls were so WOUND UP! It took them forever to settle down....sigh ;)


Nutcracker Day was finally here!  We have been waiting so long!  We could not wait to see Diana dance as a Party Child.  I was anxious all day..ha ha!!  The good news was that I finally got her hair right...it was about time!  Our family and closest friends came to support our girl and she was amazing.  I was so choked up at it all...my little dancer...friends and family...all there...it is a day I will never forget.  Snucka few  pics and video clips because duh!! 

and her biggest fan getting ready to support her- my heart

Afterwards, a few friends came back for some snacks and Diana was on Cloud 9 when her first little love Cole came by with Pink Roses...my heart melted :)

Today, I am looking back on our weekend with a full heart and much gratitude...life doesn't get much better than this.
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