Spotlight: Life Behind the Blogger

Vera from Row Homes and Cobblestones

 Saturday Spotlight: Life Behind the Blogger is a feature done each Saturday that introduces you to a blogger you may already know or a new blogger for you to get to know. This feature gives you a peak into the personal life of the blogger.  Getting to know the special person behind the beautiful blog.

There is so much talent and inspiration in blogland so enjoy getting to know these talented bloggers each Saturday.

Oh my goodness I have wanted to introduce you to this special blogger and friend for some time.  It is so amazing the people that blogland brings together.  I only had to know Vera for a short time in blogland before I knew our souls were meant to unite.  I have never met Vera in person but have come to know her heart and her friendship and it feels like I am home when I chat with her.  I know she and I will meet someday in person and it will seal the deal  of our friendship.  I could go on and on about this sweet and talented person with the most loving heart but I will just let you read her feature and you will see what I mean.  Thank you sweet Vera for finally saying yes to Spotlight.  Love you sweet friend.

So who is behind the blog Row-homes and Cobblestones?

I'm a wife, a Grandmother, a poet, an artist, expressing myself in words, murals, faux painting and Trompe-Loeil.
I'm tenacious preferring to live life incognito and my ambitious efforts reward my heart with great joy.

I'm caring and sharing, nurturing and always persistent, very determined and perhaps to a fault fiercely independent.
My blogging style shares a photo essay weaving stories within a thought provoking post and ends with my poetry, a format planned and intended.

John and I live in the city of Philadelphia where we have old cobblestones at our curb and reside in a row-home. I met John in 1976 during the year of Philadelphia's bi-centennial and quickly fell deeply in love. I soon afterwards moved to Philadelphia, a historic city, which I hold enormous reverence for. 1976 was an important turning point in my life. John and I moved into a duplex together and I proudly call Philadelphia my home. We were married in 1979, a second marriage for both. In many aspects my life is a complete dichotomy yet it has embraced me in complete harmony.

To be honest this isn't the first time Kris invited me to share in Spotlight. She approached me last year when I was still a newbie blogger. But I was dealing with an overwhelming loss and felt it was not the approximate time for me. Long story short my only child, my son Chris suddenly passed on November 2nd of 2013. I ventured into blogging hoping to find a therapeutic healing of my heart. What I quickly discovered was the realization that in vast cyberspace, a place referred to as Blog Land became a place I'd find comfort, friendship and joy. Kris is a blogger I consider a sweet friend, one whom we share our thoughts and hearts. Yet a friend I've never met in person, although I know we eventually will. I am happy to have been invited a second time to be in Spotlight. Thank you Kris, I truly appreciate the opportunity of being in the spotlight.

A purchase back on Nov. 3rd, 2012 of a Christmas Matelassé stocking was the beginning of a friendship and mentoring. OK, perhaps a gentle nudge into blogging.  I sent the photo above to Doré Callaway of Burlap Luxe to show her where I hung her pretty handmade stocking I purchased from her etsy store. Soon afterwards we started to share emails and photos as our friendship grew and Doré suggested I enter into blogging. But at the time I was actively and seriously finding comfort in my newest artistic expression of writing poetry. 

Weeks before my son was summoned into Heaven I had a conversation with him at our dining room table after dinner. Telling him about a blogging friend Doré, who I had never met in person was suggesting I blog. Chris's reaction and words were "I think you should Mom, you have much to share." I replied to my son that I was busy dedicating my free time to writing poetry and probably would seek out a publisher. Chris's response surprised me when he said "Mom share your stories and share your poetry, you have much to offer". So now I do. I pushed my first publish button on Dec. 11th, 2013 the day of my Grand Gabrielle's 17th Birthday and the rest is history. 

"She stood in the storm and when the wind did not blow her away she adjusted her sails." 
~Elizabeth Edwards~
This quote serves as my motto and is painted on a sign displayed on our kitchen picture ledge,

John and I are Francophile's and our shared hobby and love is vintage French Citroën cars and Formula One car racing. Above is a photo of our painstakingly fully restored 1972 DS Pallas Citroën dubbed "the Goddess". Owning and driving our lovingly restored car is we believe the quintessential French experience. 

We painted (OK the car restorers did) "Jean Claude" doesn't everyone name their cars, Gris Brumaire a nuanced Citroën color, one of only three Citroën colors that change throughout the day into evening. It's a Grey and a choice we love. In full sun it has a Taupe appearance and as the sun changes and sets the color turns into a lovely shade of Grey. The interior color is a French Bordeaux and has a rare dash known as "Le Cerise Jubilee". We have owned Jean Claude for 19 years, we are the third owner.

Throughout our years of French car ownership we have volunteered our artistic talents. 
We've designed altered art photography for Citroënthusiast a magazine (no longer in production). The above photo's are a few of our favorite fantasy altered artwork covers. We designed altered artwork for both front and back covers.

For many years, nearly 10 we volunteered our artistic efforts and handled the manufacturing for "Drive She Said" an all volunteer group that annually on Fathers Day weekend hosts the largest North American French car Rendezvous. John and I together (we also take on free lance work) designed tee-shirts, polos, menus, wine labels and signs for the venue that hosts over 200 people from all over North America, Europe and always several from France each year in Saratoga Springs, New York. The photo shows a few of our tee shirt designs. 

Back in the mid 80's I embarked on a spiritual journey and I'm still traveling throughout time and religious beliefs. Around the same time I started to engage in meditation twice a day to focus and relax. I still meditate. I will confess I am an avid book reader and find sheer magic in the written word. I've chosen to remain a Catholic but I embrace all religions and knowledge learned from religious beliefs rooted in love.

I collect Buddha's centuries of years old. I feel the karma and peaceful energy that they emit. Large and small buddha's are displayed throughout our home that some friends affectionately refer to as the "gallery". The Buddha shown in the photo on the left is a wooden Tibetan and is 300 years old in our living room. One of a pair that guarded a monastery's covered entry in Tibet. The photo in the middle is a Burmese Buddha that sits in our upstairs sitting/reading room. He is as far as I was told 200 years old. I was gifted him from an antique dealer I purchased Buddha's from. The gift arrived with a Sotherby's appraisal. The photo on the right is a 200+ year old wooden antique Burmese that is in our bedroom. 

We dabble/play with creating architectural origami cut outs in our ceilings and walls. I don't think we will ever be done creating in our home.

In our Living room.

My decor style runs on the side of the dramatic and moody mixed with a strong tactile feel. I like to live with the past and embrace the present with a mindful wink and nod to the future. The exposed brick wall that runs the length of our living room window wall to our upstairs guest room door was the cheapest, yet most amazing design choice in our home. I will say when John was chipping away at the plaster it looked like a war zone with all its constant debris. In the end, all the work and dirt was worth the effort because it adds old Philadelphian charm and textural warmth to our home.

A French style floral urn painting I did on our upstairs bathroom door. It is painted in 4 different hand mixed shades of Blue. As an artist I prefer to mix my own acrylic colors.

An Olive branch I hand painted appears on a mirror top in the kitchen. I adore the story behind the symbolic Olive branch God sent Noah in the mouth of a Dove. Olive branches are throughout our home. 

A Cherub positioned in our sitting/reading room upstairs. In different seasons his crown and props change in my vignettes.

In our French style guest room, artful expression embraces and welcomes our overnight guests.

As I write this Spotlight post we are in the process of a kitchen update, a rebuilding of our garage (under our kitchen) my laundry room is being revamped into a unique efficient spot, plus we are also planning to have a powder room built in the main area of the basement. 

Photo shows our new soapstone peninsula and our new Mr. Wolf gas cooktop. I am the cook, John refers to all his cooking as Cajun style (as in burnt). I seriously hope I've tempted you to come visit me at and follow along on our adventures living in our Philadelphia row-home. 


PS. At the end of each post I leave my readers with a poem I've written, but since I wrote a short poem to introduce myself at the beginning of this post I leave you with a profound quote. For all of us who pour our hearts into blogging and sharing the below quote serves as an important reminder. The quote is credited to Plato and the graphic is a printed poster I found on Google free images. 

  Thank you for sharing your beautiful and talented life with us Vera.  If you have not been to Vera's blog please hop over and introduce yourself.  Talent and sweetness just oozes from this girl.  Happy Saturday.  Enjoy this wonderful week end.


  1. Hi Kris, she is quite the blogger friend to get to know, my pleasure for so many reasons, and will love seeing a post on when you two meet up, she talks about you like non other and adores your heart. I adore both of you and would love to meet up with both of you, yet being way on the other side will make a trip like this one more planned out.

    Vera, is so authentic, and full of spirit, a mind that never quits when it comes to thinking and creating. Her poetry is the best, words so profoundly descriptive and meaningful so much so I find something in them that touch me deeply.
    Her words just flow effortlessly and stick to our heart.

    Don't you just love their photo, such a real couple. I love how Vera, and John are just so fitted for the creative lives they live.
    Not to mention a beautiful xouple.

    Enjoyed this spotlight .
    See you soon Beautiful (Kris)

    Keep inspiring us with all your days ahead.


    1. Dore thank you for your sweet words about me and Vera. We are kindred souls for sure. I know I have been on you about sharing your beautiful heart and talent with all of us too. I hope someday you will consider doing this spotlight feature too. I would love to have you share yourself with all of us.

  2. Ooop's, meant to say a Beautiful couple... Darn that spell check ? And why would it spell (xouple) ?


  3. Kris, it was so nice to get to know Vera more. I really enjoy her blog and her writing style. xoxo Su

  4. What an excellent choice for Life Behind the Blogger. I am going right over to her blog and sign up to follow her.

  5. Kris, I am so glad that you showcased Vera. She is one of my favorites.

  6. Wow, I really enjoyed Vera's post. She has a wonderful writing style. A lady with many strings to her bow clearly. They seem like such a lovely united couple. Heading over to her blog now to learn more about her.

  7. Good morning dear Kris and VERA !

    Vera, you and John are beautiful. Your sense of aesthetics is peaceful and stunning. I woke up this morning seeing the full moon and for me, that was my start to a beautiful day, a sense of energy that reminds me we are all connected. There is so much beauty all around us, and you round up as much as possible and create your home.

    Kris, I love how you feature bloggers here. I hope you are well and that your spring is off to a great start! Love to you both, Anita

  8. Just from reading this, I can tell that Vera is a sweet, kind, and extremely talented lady. I can see why you have become so close, Kris. I love the quote Vera posted at the end too - it's so true!

  9. Good morning ladies. Vera is new to me and I'm blown away by the talent this post shares. What a story and I'm hopping over now to follow along. Thank you Kris for introducing Vera today. What an inspiration!

  10. Good Morning Kris, so thrilled Vera is your feature today. She is such a dear friend and one of the most talented and giving hearts I know.
    Hi Vera, I love your feature here today and as always your writing and photos are amazing. I am greatly inspired by your creations and spirit for designing beauty in all the corners of your home. Thank you for sharing the quote at the end. It has always been one of my favorites!! You are on an amazing journey~~
    Wishing you continued love and friendship in blogland and beyond.
    Thanks Kris once again for this spotlight. Love you both, CM
    Happy May!!

  11. LOVELY for you to feature Vera today, Kris. She is truly amazing and kind.

  12. Vera is such a creative soul, and, though we've never met in person, I consider her a friend. She's so supportive of others, and, a great poet. Thanks for featuring her.

  13. I have not met Vera yet, but I am eager to go and read her, right now. Thank you for the introduction to your dear friend.

  14. I've been following Vera for awhile now and find her very, very kind and incredibly talented. I love her transparency. Great feature, Kris. Hugs, Nancy

  15. Kris,
    Thank you from the bottom of my heart for inviting me to be featured in your Saturday Spotlight. I greatly appreciate this feature, through it I have discovered so many endearing bloggers that I now follow. There is a wealth of knowledge, beauty, inspiration and delightful personalities out there in a very special place known as Blogland. I love getting comments and the exchange of talent from everyone. Thank you Kris and everyone.

    1. This was my pleasure dear friend. I am so happy to feature you and have you share your wonderful life and talents with all of us. I just want all the bloggers to get to know your heart like I have. Thank you sweet friend for doing Spotlight.
      Kris xxoo

  16. awww, thanks so much, Kris, for featuring this amazing lady. and...whew...that hubby of her's....luscious...:)

  17. Kris and Vera...I am so happy to know you both...I have a great connection with both of you. Kris, we have to fly Vera out this way, wouldn't we have a ball?

    Vera, it was wonderful getting to know you better. I was so happy to see a picture of you and John, you make a lovely couple. Wonderful post!

    Jane x

  18. Thank you Kris for bringing Vera to life. What an amazing women she is so talented. She is moving on after so much lose in her life I honer her for that. I have followed Vera for a short time now and love her blog. Thanks again for bringing new lovely bloggers into my life to cherish. Hugs, Jo

  19. It's really a lovely post. And I forgot to say that I love the photo of the car. When I was little I thought those cars and the Saab were the coolest cars on the road. It looks like it still is. xo Su

  20. I love Vera and her blog. She has a place in my heart, as she is in my daughter's beloved Phila.

  21. You were right Kris when you told me not to miss this Saturday's Spotlight!
    Vera is a gem and I joined her blog a little while ago!
    In all my business of working and preparing for our next visit to France in 4 weeks I've been hard pushed to visit everyone.

    Vera, I've loved learning more about you - and being given an insight into who exactly you are.
    I'm loving our connection of both being serious Francophiles and I will think of you when I'm in France and visiting brocantes.
    My heart sank when you told us you had lost your only son - as the mother of a gorgeous son I can truly feel your pain Vera.
    You are a very brave courageous soul - God bless you.

    I'll be over to say hello and read more of your blog - with fresh eyes and keen interest!

    Thank you Kris, your Saturday Spotlight has given bloggers so much more than a new face but their inner person, beliefs, creativity, inspiration and much, much more!
    à bientôt
    Shane x

  22. I am so happy to see you feature Vera, Kris! I recently came to know her here in blogland, and like you, quickly loved her. She is oh so talented (I am drooling over that gorgeous painted urn of hers on the door!), and shares my love of all things French. I had no idea what a terrible loss she has faced with losing her only child. So the quote at the end of her post really rings true. What a beautiful couple she and her husband are!!

  23. Hi Kris,
    Thanks so much for sharing Vera today! Did you know she was the winner of my giveaway? :) I love these features and appreciate getting to know others in blog land. I so hope you're feeling better today! We've had such beautiful weather this past week, however, I think the storms return Monday. Oh well, we must live in the moment, right?

    So glad to learn more about Vera! Breaks my heart about her son. He was gone not long after Abby. I guess God needed two more beautiful souls to be with Him.


  24. I loved this post, Kris & Vera...two of my soul sisters in blogland!!!! The quote you chose by Elizabeth Edwards is one that I am using in something I have coming up soon.
    Your home is gorgeous, Vera. You have done a great job with it. I know, though, that what you have are all "things" and you would gladly barter them all for more time with your sweet son. You have made him proud with your blogging, Vera. Blessings- xo Diana

  25. This is such a delightful post by a very lovely lady!! It is such a pleasure to know Vera who enriches my life through her thoughtful, creative, and gifted soul. Thank you for sharing, Vera!!
    Mary Alice

  26. So nice to meet you Kris.. I am so happy you have featured dear Vera here... She has a heart of gold, and great strength.. I am blessed to call her my friend. A women of so many talents, some of which you have shared here. I just love the photo of Vera and John.

  27. I'm glad you shared Vera, and her blog, Kris. She is a dear heart. LOVE the image of her, and John!

  28. I'm so excited to see Vera featured! She is such a special person, and blogging friend...great post!! :)

  29. Thank you so much Kris for introducing us to Vera! I remember seeing the name of her blog here and there on social media and thinking that I should take a peek. Seeing this feature reminded me that I haven't and so that changes today! Hope you're feeling stronger every day Kris.

  30. This feature is very interesting. A such lovely story, a beauitul home and a very talented artist.

  31. great story! thanks for introducing vera, kris!

  32. I adore Vera. There are some people you meet in this case through this wonderful world of blogging...who truly are such a bright light. I believe you and Vera and Dore are such light. Thank you for this, Kris.

  33. Dear Kris and Vera,

    I so enjoyed this heartfelt post by Vera, getting to know her a little bit through her eloquently written feature. I`m going back in time, here, after just having `met` this sweet and talented lady on my own feature, this past weekend. Thank you Kris, for introducing Vera to me; we are already following one another`s blogs, and I know I will continue to be inspired by her poetic wisdom.

    Have a wonderful week, my friends.


  34. Vera is a rockstar! I love her blog so much. She is multi-talented, and I'm happy that you put her in the Spotlight, Kris! I need to go to your homepage and get caught-up with you now!