Continuing Sandy Help: Support the First GivingTuesday!

Now that the rush and prep of Thanksgiving has passed, along with the store stampedes of Black Friday shoppers and Cyber Monday bargain hunters - Welcome the inaugural year for Giving Tuesday! This is a great way "to put the rest of the holidays in balance" as founder of Giving Tuesday Ilene Heissman stated in an interview at CBS News. What is Giving Tuesday? Giving Tuesday A movement to create a national day of giving on November 27, 2012, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. You can follow along on Twitter at #GivingTuesday, along with the dedicated facebook page at Giving Tuesday.


This day will be the first of its kind. Coinciding with the kickoff of the holiday shopping season, #GivingTuesday will harness the power of social media to create a national moment around the holidays dedicated to giving, similar to how Black Friday and Cyber Monday have become days that are synonymous with holiday shopping. Although there are several charities you can support with donations, considering Super Storm Sandy "just" happened, I'd strongly suggest this inaugural day of "Giving Tuesday" be of donations to help the Sandy Survivors in New Jersey and New York, who even though have dropped off from trending on twitter and not a hot topic in the news - these people STILL need our help.

While you decorate your mantel for Christmas, remember those in need.
While you pull out the totes of Christmas decorations, wrapping paper and cards out of your attic, basement or garage, remember those in need.
While you decide where to hang this years Christmas lights,  blow up Santa on the lawn, and place reindeer on your roof, remember those in need.
While you shop the malls for this years latest winter trend, remember those in need.
See more photos and learn how neighbors are helping neighbors in New York by hiring 5,000 people to help with the Sandy cleanup at U.S. News on
Besides donating funds or even blood to the Red Cross for this Giving Tuesday, here are just three of the many organizations to donate to for Sandy Help:
"Black Friday. Cyber Monday. Giving Tuesday - THIS is the one that counts. Donate to RestoreOurShore to send funds to nonprofits working to help our neighbors rebuild. Spread the word, let's make it happen. #RestoreOurShore "
"We ask you to make "Rebuilding Homes After Sandy" part of your first GivingTuesday. Go directly to the campaign here:, or visit for more ways to get involved. Thank you!"

Volunteer, donate supplies, send a gift or register to give at - A wonderful way to support this GivingTuesday by remembering the children affected by Sandy. Let them know that even though they may no longer have a home, Santa has not forgotten them this year...
Yordan and Joey wait with their parents in line to receive Red Cross relief items, like cleanup kits and diapers, in Jersey City at the bulk distribution of relief items in Jersey City, New Jersey on November 17, 2012. Photo by Gwen Eamer, Canadian Red Cross
What am I doing for this Giving Tuesday? I'm giving by helping to spread the word here on the blog, on Twitter, on Pinterest, on Facebook, and even on New Jersey & Long Island News Chanels (who didn't know or report about the day!)  And I'm happy to say, my donations I boxed up here in AZ and sent to New Jersey (read about: Clearing the Closet to Help Make Donations) made it to shelters on the shore this past weekend!! (Thanks to Betty Shepard "Rocking The Rescue" of Wisteria Cleaning in New Jersey!)
Even BEYOND this FIRST Giving Tuesday -
Please continue to Help Restore the Shore!
Thank you for stopping by...
and your support of Sandy Help + Giving Tuesday!

Done In A Day: Guest Room Ready for Under $400

During the past two weeks, I've been purging closets and storage areas, making donations to local thrift establishments and sending donations to New Jersey Sandy Survivors. With the spaces being cleared, it made it easier to get the house holiday ready. Last year at this time, we were just getting settled from moving from Florida. This year, we'll actually be having a guest: Jeff's mom is flying in tonite from Georgia to spend Thanksgiving with us. Using items I already had plus some pieces I've collected from thrift this year, I was able to convert the last room in a rental home into a guest space for under $450. Mixing in wood pieces and collected baskets added texture plus helped warm the otherwise grey + black + white space. I created another gallery wall with photos I captured in Florida & framed. Because most pieces were already on hand (minus the sleep sofa), the space was done in a day. What helped a lot was the existing neutral foundation of gray walls and the beige carpet. 

Here's the breakdown: 

Pieces I already had: reused and shifted from house:
- Charcoal Ikea panels (96" $20 2011)
- Black Wicker Chair ($60 thrifted in FL 2010)
- Various Shells collected from FL & San Diego (2007-2012)
- Framed Photos: I shot 5 of 7, two are prints (had since 2005)
- Bamboo Ceramic Lamp (Read: My $1 Lamp Find 2010)
- Square lampshade (had from 2005)
- White Throw ($10 Homegoods 2009) 
- Pair of geometric print pillows ($18 Homegoods 2011)
- Pair of ZGallerie Euro pillows ($30 2011) with grey linen C&B covers ($20 2008)
- Large Sunglasses Print (had since 1986 - picked up frame at Ikea 2011)

Finishing Touches (mostly from local AZ thrift)
- Wood & Brass Trunk ($10 Goodwill Chandler)
- Wicker stool ($6 Goodwill ReDesign Store Scottsdale)
- Wicker planter turned to side table ($3 Thrift Treasures Chandler)
- Wicker Urn ($12 Salvation Army Scottsdale)
- Wood & Brass Bar Cart ($5 Goodwill Mesa)
- 4 Round Baskets (3 on wall + 1 as top on urn) ($2ea various Goodwill's in Chandler
- Bowl Basket ($3)
- 2 Mexican Blankets ($3 ea Goodwill)
- Window panel Rod ($12 Ross)

One Big Purchase: Black Armless Microfiber Sleep Sofa $149 found at a store here called Garden Ridge. The store just opened in July and it's like a Home Depot for decorators. (More about them in another post!) Jeff had a rewards card he was able to put towards purchasing sleep pillows and a full sheet set, which fit perfectly into the trunk for storage, without taking up any extra space in a closet. The trunk is light enough to push to the side when the sofa is open to sleep. And I kept the space by the window cleared of furniture, for our guest (Jeff's mom) to be able to put her luggage. 

In the guest bathroom, I cleared the vanity for guest toiletries and a stack of cleaned guest towels. The medicine cabinet turned unto a great little space to put collected hotel toiletries to use. I also repurposed some glass candle holders to hold q-tips, cotton balls and a few smaller bottles. The holders were the free ones you get when you buy mini candles at Bath & Body Works.

Downstairs space Before:
Rooms transformed into a Indoor Garden Room (read more: here), a Guest Bath Room (read more: here) , and now the adjacent Guest Room.  So even though we're living in the desert, our guests and us still have a seaside-like spaces to retreat to...

Guest Room

 Hope this helps inspire you and shows that it need not take much to pull together a guest space or a small space on a small budget - with a little shift and shopping thrift!

 Thanks for stopping by!

This Thanksgiving: Where There Is a Will - There Is a Way

Yesterday afternoon, I spoke with my Godmother who lives in Spring Lake, New Jersey. Thankfully, her home and area were spared from Sandy's wrath. The only daily necessity she had to do without for a bit was electricity, but other family members came to take her to their home in Central Jersey when the NorEaster had arrived. She told how over the weekend she drove to the shore and saw the devastation - it's not like how we see in the news when you're there first hand. And some areas, like Belmar are still closed off, condemned to the public or even the home owners. Although many trees have been removed from blocking roads, their cut up limbs are stilled piled high along the roadsides. Some areas are so badly damaged, they will be needing to just be bull dozed and taken to a landfill.

It's going to take a long time to recover and rebuild - but my Godmother did say that with people like Governor Chris Christie leading the rebuilding efforts, it will go as quick as possible because he will push to make it happen. She also said, listening to him on her radio when she was tired, cold and without power brought her the most comfort because he cares. What is sad to see, hear and read though are the many who were not effected (meaning not living in that state) have already forgotten. And with the holidays upon us, from Thanksgiving, to Christmas to Hanukkah, this is no time to be forgetting how disrupted our north east neighbors lives are.

“We know Thanksgiving is an important and symbolic holiday for those of us in America,” Rodriguez said. “But this year, this particular Thanksgiving on the heels of Sandy, this may be the very first hot meals families will be able to have together.”

Always look at the sunny side of life couldn't be more true after ready about the free Thanksgiving Dinner available to New Jersey Survivors of Sandy: "Thanksgiving on the Jersey Shore would have been a tough holiday this year for many families even without superstorm Sandy. Before the storm, The Food Bank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties fed one in 10 residents of both counties combined, about 127,000 people routinely throughout the year. Since the storm, that figure has doubled, officials for the food bank said Tuesday." Although most restaurants along the shore aren't able to open, places further inland will be open. If by chance you live in New Jersey, you can help by inviting Sandy Survivors to your home for Thanksgiving by send the time, date, location, other details and contact information in an email to Also please note if you are looking for volunteers and any contact information for that.

To read more about the free Thanksgiving Dinners being served to Sandy Survivors, go to: - Asbury Park Press.

 Ocean Avenue, NJ

Kindness continued, but not always reported in the news: Even affected stores have been helping each other out. An old District Manager of mine (and Jeff's) we worked with in at JCPenney (JCP) in Florida is currently the Regional Leader for JCP up in the north east area. Mr. Paxton toured 18 JCP stores between the NY and NJ areas hit with the storm. Upon arrival, he worked with other JCP team associates to deliver 80,000 coats and 10,000 blankets donated from departments across the JCP company to the American Red Cross. Today and tomorrow, JCP will provide hot Thanksgiving meals for 17 team members and their families who are still without power.

This Thanksgiving, while your perfecting your tablescapes, be extra grateful for all that you have and say a prayer for those who may have lost everything.

 Thank you for stopping by...

The Tree at Rockefeller Center

The 80th Annual Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center made it to its destination and it's UP! Now crews will work on adorning it with 45,000 energy-efficient LED lights. The tree was unveiled on the NBC Today Show. After Sandy, this years 80-foot tall spruce is from Mt. Olive, New Jersey, which will make for a extra special tribute & holiday season! The nationally televised tree lighting ceremony this year is set for Wednesday, November 28, on NBC. But did you know, the first unofficial Christmas Tree was set by the construction workers building Rockefeller Plaza during the Great Depression in 1931. There was no tree up in 1932. The official Christmas tree tradition at Rockefeller Center began in 1933, the year the 30 Rockefeller Plaza opened. After being taken down, the tree is  recycled for a variety of uses, for example: furnish lumber for Habitat for Humanity house construction. My Godmother use to bring me to the City to see the tree when I was growing up in Jersey. In 2003, I flew up to NYC from Miami to see the tree lighting...

 Now this my friends... IS a TREE! Funny - I shot this pic the day after Jeff surprised me in New York (and it snowed!) We were split for 2 months, and he flew up on December 3rd to profess his love to me and 6 years later, we were not only married in NYC, but we had our wedding dinner with our moms at the Top of the Rock at The Rainbow Room Grill. The next day, we flew off to Italy for our 10 Day Honeymoon. Life is funny...

The first tree at Rockefeller Plaza 1931.

This years tree...

From tweet pics at Rockefeller Center @rockcenternyc
The tree's journey from Jersey...

Can't WAIT to see it lit - Wednesday November 28th!

Thanks for stopping by,



Getting Guest & Thanksgiving Ready

Over the weekend, I spent some time starting to winterize our home as well as plan my Thanksgiving table. Sadly, it won't be filled with 16 or more friends and family, but we will have one more guest here vs. last year: Jeff's mom is flying into town on Tuesday evening to spend Thanksgiving with us. I had also asked my mom to fly in, but she can't because of her work schedule. We picked up most of our Thanksgiving groceries (and bird!) Saturday, minus just a few last minute items to pick up next week. I gave the oven a test run this weekend with some chocolate chip cookies for Jeff. Since temps have (finally) dropped here in Arizona, this was a great way to help warm the house!

And now that the closets have been sorted for donations and summer clothes have been exchanged for winter, it's also time to pull together the last space in this house: a guest room. To get more use out of the space other than just a guest room, we opted for futon-type sofa: The armless sleeper sofa. While out Friday afternoon, I found a (new to me & area) store called Garden Ridge, and they had two styles & colors to choose from. We had looked at similar styles at stores and online at Target, but with the shorter time frame + extra shipping charges, shopping local was the way to go. The sleeper came in micro-suede or faux leather: We opted for the softer micro suede. I wish it had been offered in off white, but tan or black were the options to choose from. Since the room is already a pale blue-grey with existing tan rug, I went for the black. It's very similar to my inspiration photo I spotted in the small space issue of House & Home.

Lord knows, I already have plenty of pillows, and I also have plenty of framed black & white photos I've captured & framed. Since upstairs will primarily be winterized with holiday, winter woods and Ansel Adams images, I'm going to use my B&W beach photos from the summer. The room is next to the garden room, so I'm going to link the two spaces together with a few collected seaside mementos. I already had framed a quad of 4 coastal images in the first floor entry, so now the lower level will have a coastal retreat vibe - a nice little get-a-way from this desert. No pics yet, bot the framed images have been collected and leaning against the wall, to go up today.

Later when it warms up a bit (low 40's this morning! I'm heading outside to paint! (YAY!) In our FL living room, I had a wall, mostly of collected mirrors. They were mainly silver, with touches of gold, but this year, I'm painting them ALL gold to hang on our charcoal grey wall behind the sofa for holiday. I don't want to do the white tree this year: I'd like to go more naturals & greens with white. Since Jeff's mom will be here next week, I'd like to get a head start this week on some holiday prep like removing the black I layered in for Fall, switch out the layered woven rugs for the heavier white shag, and add more panels & sheers to windows to keep the cold out. I'll already have the mirrors up, and I'm thinking I'll probably pack up the orange leaves of fall for some fresh cuttings from our neighborhood to mix with my branches. For the table, I'll use my thrifted white dinnerware I've collected: I truly love the idea of using layered white dishes: it gives a clean palette and lets the abundance of food be the star at Thanksgiving. On the stoop: I may remove the orange leaves and I'd like to paint the orange pumpkins white and use them to spell "thanks".

What are your plans for this Thanksgiving? and
When do you start to decorate for Christmas?

Thanks for stopping by...


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