New York State of Mind

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I am completely obsessed with New York City. I have never been there, but I am smitten with it. Central Park, the hipster shops in the West Village, the run-down pizza cafes, the Museum of Modern Art, small bakeries with macaroons in the window, Tiffany’s, Grand Central Terminal, brownstone buildings on tree-lined streets… I could go on. Perhaps my fascination is due to the movie “Sunday in New York” with Jane Fonda, countless viewings of “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” with Audrey Hepburn, and “Pillow Talk” with Doris Day that I watched hundreds of times while growing up. Perhaps it is more recently due to “Gossip Girl” (sue me. When I was home with Mason on maternity leave, he slept a lot. I love that series so much that I have watched the entire series 5 times through).

You can call me Blair Waldorf 🙂

Anyway…

Whatever the reason, I have been dreaming of traveling there for years. I’m sure I’m not alone in this quest. I know many people who visit there often, but I have never had the chance. I need at least a week to explore all the places and sites I want to see! I also need the right traveling buddy to embark on this adventure with me.

Enter Jer.

I asked him if he would enjoy traveling there for our anniversary, and he said he would. So it’s settled then! That’s all I needed to hear lol! I have been casually “planning” and researching a trip to the Big Apple for years now, so I have a pretty solid idea of what I would like to experience!

One snag. One of us is terrified of flying, the other can’t stand the idea of driving that far. But I mean come on. Why drive for FOURTEEN effing hours when you could fly for TWO hours nonstop to LGA for only 100 bucks more per person compared to the cost of gas? Not that I’m giving my opinion or anything. I’ll just make sure he gets a few shots of tequila in his system and his fear of flying will fly right out the window!

Below I have outlined the sites and places that I am determined to experience in August.

The High Line

The High Line is a former elevated train track that has been converted into an elevated urban park. It’s only a mile long so it should be a great walk with some great photo ops!

Grand Central Terminal

It’s one of the nation’s most historical landmarks, and it is a beautiful building. I can’t wait to see it in person!

Katz’s Deli

“I’ll have what she’s having”. –the orgasm scene in “When Harry Met Sally”

MOMA

While there are many museums to visit in the city, The Museum of Modern Art appeals to me the most.

The Shake Shack

The Shake Shack is a food stand in Madison Square Park. Word around the interwebs is that it features some of the best New York-style hamburgers and hot dogs in the city. Count me in.

Tiffany’s

No explanation needed. I will use getting my necklace cleaned as an excuse to enter, and walk out with the matching bracelet. Sorry Jer.

Palma

I have read nothing but great reviews about this tucked away brunch destination. I have heard that brunch is practically a New York rite of passage, so as long as that includes mimosas, powdered sugar French toast, and a bowl overflowing with blueberries, strawberries, and cream, count me in!

Central Park

This one speaks for itself. I can’t wait to rent some bikes and explore the whole park! I am hoping to spend an entire day there as well: eating in the park, reading in the park, yoga in the park… sigh.

Union Square Farmer’s Market

I am a sucker for farmer’s markets here in MKE. I love the one in South Shore Park. I’m sure this one is a market-goer’s paradise!

Empire State Building

There is something magical about this building to me. I especially want to be on the observation deck to catch an amazing sunset!

I also want to take a tour of the Statue of Liberty, check out Times Square, go to the New York Public Library, and bike the Brooklyn Bridge, among many other things! So exciting. I can’t wait to explore it all, take a million pictures, and “be a New Yorker” for a while J

What are some of your favorite spots in New York City? For all you experts, what are some recommendations of must-do’s and must-see’s?

American Estates Antiques and Collectibles

American Estates- Bay View, WI

American Estates- Bay View, WI

Everyone who knows me knows that I love antiques and collectibles. It’s in my blood. From the time I could understand what it meant, my Grandpa, Dad, and uncle were “Junk Pickers”. I didn’t know anyone else like them, and it was something I took pride in a very long time ago. I am not an expert by any means, but ask me how much your <Braves memorabilia, vintage Las Vegas ashtray, Iris and Herringbone glass set, Black Heritage postcard, Mickey Mouse freeze-e-pop set, Shirley Temple memorabilia> is worth, and I can give you a pretty good idea.

My Grandpa opened American Estates Antiques and Collectibles on KK Avenue in Bay View, WI 50 years ago. I have had the pleasure of experiencing 26 of them. The storefront is the room most people see, but there are many other places to explore. The basement looks like something straight out of a horror film. The attic is crumbling and there are many hallways and rooms to check out. The back room is piled floor to ceiling with 50 years of accumulated treasures. It is a building rich with history, and is very near and dear to my heart.

When my parents met, my Dad left his job at an insurance company to join my Grandpa on this adventure. Listening to Grandpa tell stories of the early days of his business is fascinating. Mansions in downtown Milwaukee were his playground. He would secure rights to enter some of the biggest and oldest homes around, purchasing brass hardware, terra cotta, glassware, and other pieces of the homes (He has such an abundance of brass that to this day, I sell the same brass doorknobs and backplates on Etsy and Ebay for up to $80 a set).

He also tells stories of all the interesting individuals who used to frequent his shop.. including Al McGuire! I remember when I was about 8 or so being quite curious about the eccentric people I would meet on a weekly basis. It doesn’t matter what decade we are in, there are no people on planet Earth quite as crazy as those involved in the antique world!

For instance…

There was a man (whose name escapes me) that used to come into the shop monthly and would purchase the entire storefront inventory. I remember coming in on a Saturday and seeing empty shelves and display cases, and my Grandpa would stock it all full again with merchandise from the back room. There was also Greg Filardo, who appeared on an episode of “American Pickers” recently, who owned a mansion in downtown Milwaukee and had millions… but ate McDonalds for lunch every day. There was “Arno”, who smoked more cigarettes in a single day then some people did in a month. He had wild fro-like hair, and he was missing front teeth. He died of cancer a couple years ago.

The most insane story my Grandpa has ever told would be the time he received a call from a woman responding to his newspaper ad back in the 70’s. She had read that he would “clean out” her home, and he agreed, thinking she meant clean it out of merchandise and purchase from her. When he arrived at her home, she was hysterical, and when he asked what was going on, she explained that she had called him to clean up a suicide scene. Her son had shot himself in the head in his room upstairs. He looked at her wide-eyed and explained that he was an antique dealer, he cleaned homes out when someone passed or had accumulated too much stuff. She begged him to help her. My Grandpa says that he called a few of his friends, they went out and got completely wasted, and then proceeded to go back to the woman’s house, and clean up her son’s room and body, brains and all. He said they were putting chunks of brain into plastic bags and wiping blood off the walls. He said he almost got sick. This story bothered me for a long time, but it doesn’t even scratch the surface of all that my Grandpa has seen and done!

Growing up at the store with my sisters and cousins is a life highlight for me. We spent every weekend there, exploring, creating, and breaking things. Looking back at pictures now is surreal to me, because it feels so incredibly long ago. I didn’t cherish who we were and what my family did for a living as much as I do now. As a young girl, I was far more interested in the antique dollhouse, dress-up clothes, and Uncle Jonesy’s famous snack tray: The Smorgasbord.

To this day, my Dad and Grandpa make house calls when someone asks that they stop by to check out their trash or treasures. As a child, a car ride with my Dad could mean that at any moment he could slam on the brakes and make a u-turn to check out a pile of junk abandoned in front of someones house or on the curb. They also still scope out estate sales in the area and ensure that they are first in line. I remember them leaving home at 3 in the morning to get the first ticket to the house, and then sleep in their trucks until the sale opened at 7. The things they could find in people’s homes would blow your mind. Things purchased for a quarter would sell for hundreds of dollars. One year my Dad found a Green Hornet pen in the original package that sold on Ebay for almost a thousand dollars. There was one estate sale in particular that had me and my sisters and cousins laughing for weeks and weeks because the whole house smelled like cat pee… and that would make sense considering the lady had 15 cats!

A more recent story that never fails to amaze me is the story of “the stolen carnival glass”. My Grandpa received a call from a man (lets call him Bob), who is interested in selling his entire inventory of carnival glass. Carnival glass is a molded glass with an iridescent surface shimmer. Intrigued, Grandpa headed over to the man’s home and was shocked by the amount of glass he had in his basement. Knowing what would ultimately be profited from the sales of all that glass, Grandpa offered him thousands of dollars for the whole lot, and Bob accepted. My entire family helped to transport the glass from Bob’s basement to the store, and it took almost a whole week. We got started on listing it all on Ebay right away, as there were many rare and valuable pieces. We sold quite a bit in the coming weeks, and hadn’t even scratched the surface. I am not very knowledgeable when it comes to legal matters, but through a series of events, it turned out that the man who actually owned all the glass was in PRISON and knew full well its value. Bob had no right to sell it, and therefore police showed up to the store and confiscated every last piece. I have never seen my Grandpa more frustrated or angry than he was by the whole ordeal. It still hasn’t been completely sorted out. What a mess that was!

I could go on and on about all of our adventures at American Estates but I do have a point. Recently, Grandpa’s store was sold, and the woman who now owns it plans to turn it into an apartment complex. My heart aches when I think of how much I will miss the store, and how it will never belong to us again. I can’t imagine it not being in our family. It is inevitable that there are changes in life, but this one really, REALLY sucks. I feel like when the doors close for the last time, a chapter in my life closes, and I no longer get to “claim” the antique world as my own. It is part of my heritage, and it is very hard for me to see my second home turn from something rich with history and stories, to a modern living space. I am afraid that the antique world will no longer be a part of me anymore, and it is a shame that I didn’t realize sooner how much I love it and am passionate about it. It is a dream of mine to open an antique store of my own. I am not at a point in my life where this is a possibility, but if ever the time comes, I have an entire life’s worth of experience and family to guide me! For now, I will be content with my own small inventory of treasures, and my listings on Ebay and Etsy.

Thank you Grandpa, for teaching me the value of hard work, dedication, and passion! Thank you for the best hangout a kid could ask for! Thank you for every bit of knowledge you have given me. Thank you for teaching me honesty. Every piece in your shop has a story to tell, and one man’s trash truly is another man’s treasure!

xo

Believe. Do. Repeat.

stars

“What do you believe in?”

When I was 8 years old, my younger sisters and I found ourselves in the backseat of my parent’s car at about 5pm on a Sunday night. We had no idea where we were headed, except that my Dad had found a new church in Oak Creek WI, and was intent on visiting it with his family. This car ride, by the way, is the first memory I have of driving on a freeway.. so many semis! Random. Anyway..

Parkway Apostolic Church loomed in the distance. I had been to church a couple times when I was very small, but I had NEVER seen anything like this church. There was loud worship music, people singing on stage, and throwing their arms toward the sky. When the preacher stood up, he yelled and pointed at the congregation, and sweat rolled down his forehead. A woman started shouting in a language I had never heard before. After an hour or so, people started to rush to the front of the church, and then fell to their knees. In my mind, the mind of an 8 year old girl, it was all craziness.

Until it wasn’t anymore. I do not claim to remember much about being 8, but I can imagine that it is a very vulnerable and easily swayed age. I loved my parents more than anything, and I believed anything they told me. What I DO remember, however, is how quickly this church became a vital part of my life. We would attend every Sunday morning and evening, and would have adults over to our home on Wednesday nights for Bible study. I remember my Mom would make my sisters and I clean the house especially well, as to impress those who would be visiting. All in an instant, we were “church people”. My Mom’s hair grew to her lower back, and she threw away all her makeup and pants, in exchange for hair ties and long skirts. Our pants were thrown away as well, and replaced with jean skirt jumpers and floral dresses. We were no longer allowed to watch TV or movies, and were sheltered with extreme care. I watched my hair grow longer and longer… and never once questioned it. After all, Rachel, the Bible says women are not to cut their hair. Why would I doubt that?! I remember being told that my grandparents were going to hell…. as they were not baptized in Jesus’ name and filled with the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in tongues.

When I was 10, I remember watching my parents go through the most awful relationship I have ever witnessed. I can’t count how many times the police were called to our house, or how many nights my grandparents had to drive out to pick my sisters and I up. Yet, like clockwork, we were the perfect family come church on Sunday. My parents would vent to other “saints”, and I can remember their pitying eyes, their concern, and how I truly believed all was fine. It wasn’t until each of my parents had gone through extreme bouts of depression and negligence that my Dad put his foot down and enrolled us in Parkway Christian Academy when I was 12, the school from which I would ultimately graduate high school. In elementary school, naive as we were, I remember lifting my hands up to God in chapel service, as that was what my peers were doing, and forcing the tears to come down. We had to repent, of course! I remember the shame I felt at even the thought of cutting my hair, or wearing pants, or doubting a single truth that was told to me day in and day out.

High school was different. I felt trapped. How badly I wanted to believe what I felt convicted to believe, rather than what I was being told, and my brain thrashed around in my head, wrestling with what I was being told and what I FELT in my heart. I remember how we all followed along like little sheep, blind to every evil in the world, and all that it has to offer. How unprepared I was for when I was actually released into the real world…

Years went by. The last time I was at Parkway Church was for one of my best friend’s weddings. I stood up in this wedding, and once my feet hit the platform, I felt a wave of emotions, but mostly one of reflection. I reflected on how far I have come as a person once I set my mind free. How much more willing I am to open my mind to things that may or may not be possible. I am amazed at how much more faith I have in myself, in God, and in the world around me now that “the church” is not shoving religious “truths” down my throat.

So, here is what I believe:

  • I believe that God loves all of his children, regardless of race, age, sexual orientation, faults, crimes, or accomplishments. On that same line, there is not one person on this earth that is “better” in His eyes than the next: whether that be the passionate, screaming preacherman on the stage, or the whore on the street corner looking for her next customer. We have ALL made mistakes and we ALL deserve a second chance.
  • I believe in God. I believe there is a Heaven. I believe there is more than one way an individual may enter Heaven. Interpret how you will, judgmental Pentecostals.
  • I believe that if you treat everyone you meet with respect and kindness, it is one of the best things you can do. “The greatest of these is love”.
  • I believe that God is more concerned with the matters of our hearts than whether or not we are wearing a skirt to the floor and hair that covers our neck. If I can wake up every day with a thankful and positive attitude, respect myself and others, raise my son to be a kind person, and live the way I am convicted to live, then I believe all is well. To me, our bodies are a gift, and if we take care of them and feel healthy and beautiful in them, then the creator of them is pleased.
  • I believe that everyone was given a passion, and it is our jobs not to waste our talents.
  • I believe in having fun, getting loud, eating well, drinking good wine, staying physically fit and well, spending time in quiet thought, and making family time the most important time of the day.
  • I believe that everyone standing in that church will be judged for every time they judged another.
  • I believe that when all is said and done, religion will not mean shit.
  • I believe that if I have faith, the good things intended for me will happen.
  • I believe that God wants us to enjoy our lives!! He created the beauty in this world after all!

xo

Smile…Even When it is -2 Degrees

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“A smile is a curve that sets everything straight” – Phyllis Diller

It is so easy to be happy in summer, when the sun is warm on your face (and visible till the evening hours), clothing is limited, and time spent outside is seemingly endless. In winter, however, it is harder for me to find reasons to be happy and relaxed, and I have a tendency to be crabby easily. And, for those who are not local, we have had almost an entire week of sub-zero temps and harsh winds (which, if you ask me, is entirely too ridiculous to deal with, and my feelings on it can be saved for another post on another day. Don’t even get me started… the fact that your face literally hurts when the temps plummet as low as they do, the way people drive when it starts to snow, how painful getting into a car that is freezing is at 6:30am.. I could go on). I am getting off topic…

It takes greater effort for me to find things to smile about amidst the snow, wind, and gray. This post is to encourage anyone who may be feeling the same way! Hey, it’s normal to feel down at this time of the year, folks! These are some things that happened this week that made me smile:

  • On Monday night, my sister Charmaine met Mason and I at our house after work and picking him up. We found the movie High School Musical on Netflix and jumped, sang, and danced around the living room with Mason. I was amazed by how many of the songs we remembered!
  • One of the doctors at work bought lunch for the whole clinic on Tuesday. We ordered from Simmer in downtown MKE. Yum.
  • As I was putting Mason to bed one night, I kissed him and he said “You kiss me?”. “Yes, baby,” I replied. “Because you love me?” Heart. Melting. Yes, baby. Very much.
  • Class was cancelled for Jer on Thursday evening due to blizzard-like conditions. Sweatpants and tv instead? Win.
  • I printed new photos and switched out the old ones in all my frames around the house.
  • When Jimmy (the security guard at work) was asked by my boss Torie and I to shovel the sidewalk outside of the clinic, he gave us his typical grumpy answer of “That’s not my job,” (as he does with most tasks we give him- showing the FedEx delivery man where to take packages, escorting visitors to the proper floor, moving things up to another floor, etc). Of course, seeing as how he has a hard exterior but is really a big softie, he ends up doing most things, even if it means running across the street to Dunkin Donuts for us. In any event, I looked out the window of my second-floor office to see Jimmy shoveling all that snow, so I took pictures and knocked on the glass so he would hear me and he looked up and made a disgusted face. It’s impossible not to laugh at Jimmy!
  • Ang and I were able to leave the house for a bit this evening. We hung out at Starbucks, and pondered the upcoming birth of her baby girl. I love girl time with her!
  • I have had the luxury of relaxing on the couch every. Single. Night. This. Week.

What made you smile this week? Don’t let the cold get you down!! xo

Welcome Back to my Vocabulary, “No”.

say no

“Sure, be right there!”, “I’ll make time!”, “What else do you need from me?”, “Of course I’ll be there!”, “I have nothing else going on!” , “Yes!”, “YES!!” – me.

I got my first job the summer I was 16. It was at a Cousins Subs in Greenfield, WI. I remember the new jeans I bought that would be ruined by grease, food, and mop water within a few months. I remember how much I would have rather been laying out in the sun. I remember how shy I was then, how it would take me a while to look someone in the eye.

One of the things I remember about being 16 was how much I wanted to PLEASE everyone, at work and otherwise. Not even in the sense of the work I was doing, but I wanted my co-workers to be impressed by the person I was. It was such a huge deal to me, in fact, that I would soak in everything they were saying and doing, so that I could reference it later, if a situation arose where I needed to be “cool”.

I reference my first job because it was around this time that I pretty much stopped thinking of myself and what I wanted and mostly considered what other people were thinking. And I NEVER said no to anyone that I wanted to impress. I was anything they wanted me to be, at least I tried. What an easily swayed age. You would think that even by being the “yes-man” so to speak, I would be happy by being involved, by going with the flow, by never telling anyone no. But I wasn’t. And I carried this attitude with me into adulthood. It was only a year ago that I realized how impossible it was for me to turn anyone down for any reason, and how badly I beat myself up whenever I had to. I also realized however, what little time I had for myself, and how unhappy I was that I rarely even considered myself before anyone else. I had my selfish moments, sure, but I don’t remember making many choices without first considering how it would affect everyone else.

When I look back at my slightly-awkward transition to adulthood, I cringe knowing that many of the things I did- the mistakes I made, things I tried, people I hurt, situations I found myself in… a vast majority of them were done because I had been asked to. And I had agreed.

Some very good friends of mine helped me realize that by always being there for everyone else, I was neglecting myself and robbing myself of happiness. Happiness that comes by saying, “Not this time, I would rather stay home tonight.” or “Maybe next time”. Happiness that comes with seriously contemplating what I need to be in harmony- body and soul. Happiness that comes with a quiet evening, when my little one is warm in his bed, and I am taking time for myself.

What a liberating feeling, knowing the only person that I ever have to say “yes” to is myself.

Party O’ Pins

My favorite pins from this week. Enjoy! ←

I tried this for about 4 days and didn’t notice any changes, but I am sure it requires a bit more consistency than that and for that reason I remain intrigued!

First of all, the green dresser. Perf. Second of all, the chalkboard paint is genius. Third of all, that song ♥

Anyone who knows me knows that my love of vintage has no boundaries!

Sums of my feelings towards myself this week.

I died.

Because what better dish to make in the gloomy days of January than hot, delicious chili?!

You Can Keep These, 2014

photo (3)This post is to spite the crabby mood I was in yesterday morning.

I would like to preface this post by saying that there will be no “Frozen” references, as I’m sure anyone who has seen the movie as many times as I have, most likely saw the above picture and thought “Oh, greeeeeeaaaatttt.”. No worries. I am as sick of it as you are, I promise.

I am simply tired of baggage. Perhaps not baggage in the typical context (relationshp baggage, etc), but as it relates to negative thoughts, mistakes, and ways of life. Anyway, back to yesterday morning. I hate how easy it has become for me to speak with an attitude or fall into a moody funk. I have already written about things I will strive for in 2015, below are some things I have decided to leave in the past:

  • Negativity- I have been guilty of starting days off on the wrong foot just by having a negative outlook on it. I find that I’m most likely to be negative when I am overwhelmed. It’s time for me to start viewing the glass half full!
  • Guilt- A while back I had written in a journal entry that I did not feel worthy of any good things that came my way. Of course, this was after I had made some terrible life choices, and then hurt quite a few people on my quest to make it all right again. I suppose we could also use the term Regret here as well because I still do regret some of the ways I handled things back then. I felt that even if every single person I had wronged had forgiven me, I still would never be able to forgive me. There are days where I think to myself, “Was that even me?!? Did any of that even happen?!” but that’s the beauty of growth, isn’t it? We all live and learn, and second chances are a beautiful thing.
  • Caring what other people think- This is a biggie for me. I have come a long way over the years as far as not letting others dictate who I should be. But I think it is human nature to care what people think of you, and for me this rings especially true being in the position I am at work. People look to me for direction, advice, permission, and guidance, and I need to have more faith that I am where I am because of hard work and a good head on my shoulders, not because all people thought all “good” things of me at all times. I heard a quote once, although I don’t remember where: “You wouldn’t care so much what people thought of you if you realized how much they actually think of you.” Wise words, folks.
  • Working-Mommy Syndrome- WHAT?!?! You have a child/ren and you WORK OUTSIDE OF THE HOME FULL TIME?! What. A. Concept. Sarcasm, maybe, but as women, it is not unheard of to feel ashamed of yourself for having a full time job (whether necessary or not) and not being more “available” to your kids. Everywhere you look there are mixed signals: articles tell you how your children will be “emotionally scarred and carry it with them through adulthood” if they feel “neglected” during their most crucial years, alongside articles telling you to “own your womanhood” and “take a break from the kids”. Oh, shut up. Isn’t it time we stopped taking every single thing we read at face value and have a little faith that what works for the family is actually working for the family?! I am confident that one day, Mason will not look me in the eye and say “Hey, Mom?? Remember all those years you worked to help support our family and sent me to a school with a Christian education and taught me the value of money, and were able to buy me all the things I wanted and needed, and took me on fun outings?? Yeah… I wish you NEVER would have done that.”  He just isn’t going to say that. This is where I am in life right now, and I am going to own it!
  • Procrastination- Carpe Diem, peeps!!! When tomorrow does come, I will have wished I had accomplished *insert book not read, walk not taken, DIY projects abandoned* when I had the time! Not to be confused with time spent clearing my mind or meditating, I am talking about all the things I could be doing when I am sitting pondering all the things that need to be done.

I hope I’ve inspired you to leave toxic feelings and habits in the past! What do you hope to change?

“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.”
― Mother Teresa