Saturday Spotlight: Life Behind the Blogger

Susan from Must Love Junk, and myself wanted to do a regular feature on our blogs, something unique that hasn't been done before.   So we came up with an idea to 'spotlight the real life behind the blogger' in a more personal way.
There is so much talent and inspiration in blogland, and we thought it would be fun to bring you a closer look at the person behind the blog.

Every week on Saturday we will spotlight a blogger and have them tell us a little bit about themselves and their blogs.  You will be able to see and read about each of the bloggers on both Susan's and my blog. 
September 27

Good Saturday Morning.  This week I am excited to introduce you to a really sweet and very talented blogger and artist.  Gee from Simply Designs by Gee.  Gee and I have become blogging friends and I just love her wonderful heart.  She express herself through her beautiful paintings.
Please enjoy getting to know Gee and then hop on over to check out her beautiful blog.

When Kris asked me to write a post for her series 'Behind the Blogger ' I immediately said 'yes'. I mean, what an honour!!
Then the nerves set in.
What have I done??
You see I can talk about my family, my work, my home. But me... stutter... stutter.

Me, Gee, in a nutshell :)
I am the eldest of 4 siblings.
Was raised by my father after my parents split when I was 12.
Married to a wonderful and supportive husband of 23 years, Douglas.

 Mom of two amazing young men, Mark, 26  and Jesse, 21.
Now, Gigi to the precious Bella 6 and Winston 4 weeks  ( still trying to wrap my mind around that one). Gulp!
Then there is our most demanding, our fur baby, Master Vic.

When we were expecting our 2nd child I had to take medical leave from my job and well, resigned to stay at home with my boys. I never went back to a full time job.
I have had the pleasure of being at home watching my babies change to teens and now wonderful young men . It is a decision we have never regretted. There were sacrifices made, hard ones at times, but we were willing to stand behind it.
During this time, as I was then able to  take my boys with me, we volunteered for many, many years at the Local Salvation Army in the Social Service Department. I was the fill in Social Worker, fill in Receptionist....
The boys were stacking shelves in the pantry as soon as they were able. I believe in a life of service to my community and encouraged my family to be active. To always pay it forward.
This is the first year I have not been there .
But since the marriage of my son Mark to the beautiful Danielle , that brought our sweet Bella into our family, I have been helping out with and garnering some Bella time as often as I could. Now with the addition of Master Winston in August, I have made the decision not to go back this Fall , but instead to be available to watch that little luv nugget as often as I will be allowed , when his parents return to work.
I started blogging 2 1/2 years ago while on bed rest due to illness. I had stumbled upon the world of Blogging a few months before , and was an avid reader  on the sidelines.... quietly reading .
Then while confined to my bed and going stark crazy, I jumped in. I started blogging.
A decision I have not regretted.
I blog to share my luv of family, my luv for decorating and my art. I blog when I am moved to write... to share.

Some years ago, during a difficult time in my life I met an artist. She encouraged me to  channel my anguish and emotions into art. I started with charcoals. A very unforgiving medium in some aspect. Then moved on to oils.
When my toddler took one of my palette knives and chased his big brother across the house one afternoon, I packed them up and made the leap into acrylics.
I was in luv!! There has been no looking back for me.

The medium I prefer to work on is mainly reclaimed wood. With the joint efforts of a keen woodworker, I have used quite a bit of construction cast offs to paint on and to frame the finished pieces.
I have also done some murals in homes, construction models, churches, offices....
Chosen colours and d├ęcor for clients.
Have had my work displayed in galleries, sold quite a bit of canvasses throughout the US and abroad.
Created and sold painted furniture.
All while raising two wonderful boys and on my own schedule.

 Over the years my decorating style has changed as I have.
When the lads were little, we had a nice denim, plaid, red white and blue all American ala Ralph Lauren style. It was luvly while it lasted.
Then we moved into a more relaxed country /farmhouse, and a home full of antiques, which changed to an all white French cottage , to now, well, not sure what we can call it.
I just know it  is reflective of my family and how we live. Comfy, relaxed and easy.
Filled with things we luv.
My ever continuing affair with dishes. Ironstone, transferware, circa 1950 American glassware...
Family pieces to add some soul to this newly constructed home. This that was our transitional home, but when the market dropped, well, we had to stay as there was no selling it in a market flooded with homes. Pieces we have reluved and rehabbed into what fits our style.
But it's home :)

Over the last 3 years we have come to the conclusion that it's where we will be for a few more years at least. With our kids one street over, it's perfect for seeing the littles and kissing cheeks.
So we snuggle in, and we make it 'Us'!

So come on over, we will have coffee and a nice chat. Hope you luv dogs though, because our Master Vic is a lot of chocolate lab energy and wet kisses.
Thanks for having me Kris. It was a HUGE honour!!


Thank you Gee for sharing about you, your beautiful family and your wonderful talent with all of us.  It was a true pleasure to feature you this week my friend.

Now that you have gotten to know sweet Gee please hop over to Susan's blog and meet Tina from What We Keep.
Have a wonderful week end.

Getting the B&B Ready

Happy Wednesday.  I am really excited and getting ready for my friend Susan from Must Love Junk and her hubby Keith to come into Chicago October 2nd.

They came in last year and stayed downtown  Chicago and took the train out to meet up.  This year they will stay with me for a few days and that way we can fit in more junkin stops!!  They will get junkin in the burbs with us and then will still have a few days for the Chicago City Life.

I have been changing things up in the guest room and getting it all comfy for them to stay.

Grace is awaiting their arrival to watch over them while they stay.

Got all the bedding ready for them to be comfy.  Hope it is not too cold to have to use the extra duvet but it is there just in case.

I want them to have sweet dreams as they stay.

Let the Junkin Begin...................

Thursday we will begin with:
 Tattered Tiques!!!

Lucky Junk !!!!!!

Then on Friday
Downtown Morris...........

Ruby Begonia's
Letty Mae's for the best eats!


Also on Thursday:
Room 363
Denise's Adornments

 Susan and Keith the Guest Cottage is already for your arrival on October 2nd.  Pack your running shoes I have lots of junkin planned!

Morris Shops, Tattered Tiques, Lucky Junk, Denise's Adornments and Room 363.

Have a great rest of the week.  Check back on Saturday Susan and I will have a couple of sweet bloggers in Spotlight for you to get to know.

Happy Sunday Shout Out

Good Morning.  Happy Sunday.

Hope your week end is a good one.

I think some of you know that I have a Girlfriend Charity Christmas Party every year on the first Friday in December.

I started this about 8 years ago and would gather up all my girlfriends and we would get together to celebrate our friendships.  The catch to the party is that we would do a girlfriend gift exchange and each person had to buy a special gift that some or most of the proceeds went to a charity from purchasing the gift.

It amazes me each year the beautiful and thoughtful gifts each friend brings to the party for the exchange.

Everyone goes home with a great gift and touching story behind why the gift was purchased to benefit that particular charity.

It is a fun night of laughs, tears, hugs and celebrating the love we have for each other in friendship.

This year I found my gift for the party and also did a little more early Christmas shopping for gifts.

I have to give a shout out to this group because not only do they have a wonderful gift they also touch the lives of other women in need in so many ways.

I also grew up near where this company is located in Michigan.  I know that area well and this certainly is a great cause.

I want to share this with you so if you can think of anyone that you have on your gift list that might benefit from these lovely bags and know that your gift goes a long way to help so many others.

The company is called BetterLifeBags and is 
the vision of Rebecca Smith.
Rebecca also has a blog.

This is their Mission and a short video.
Enjoy learning about this company and it great cause.

The mission of Better Life Bags is simple:  make lives better!
My family and I moved on purpose to a low income area of Detroit  in 2010.  Because the unemployment rate here is 20%, we have an awesome opportunity for BLB to give back to the community that we operate out of!
We hire women, who otherwise cannot get jobs, to work for BLB.  We rent them a sewing machine and tools while teaching them a skill set that allows them to become a primary or secondary provider in their families.  Most of these women are first generation immigrants from countries such as Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan, Yemen, and Bangladesh, so we are also able to provide them with much needed fellowship and friendship as we visit their homes to deliver fabric and pick up orders.

This 90 second video shows a little of our town and purpose

That’s not all, though.  We are currently beginning a partnership with a local sewing group of women {originally from Bangladesh} who desire to learn the skill of sewing and potentially earn a living wage from their hard work and training. They currently make all of our Key FobsBuntings, and are learning how to make our Laptop Bags.

They have ready made bags for purchase and they also have custom bags that you can make up to your own taste.  I got a gift certificate for the person who wins my gift at this years party so they can custom make a wristlet or cell phone holder with their own choices.

Here are just a few samples of the bags.  Please visit their website to see all the lovely choices and think of gifts and know that you will be giving to a good cause.  Love gifts that keep on giving.

So please stop by Better Life Bags and check out all the wonderful choices of gifts in all price ranges.  Just know that by giving this gift to someone it will also be giving a gift to another person in need.

Shhhh hope they are not reading this but I did up gift certificates for my two daughters for a Christmas gift and they can then go and custom make up a beautiful bag for themselves.  So special and custom and also love that it gives back.

Have a great start to the new week.