Wednesday, January 15, 2014

These Are a Few (or Five, to Be Exact) of My Favorite Things

I haven't done a "Five Favorites" post, a Wednesday staple for many lady bloggers whose sites I frequent regularly, in quite a while.  But lately, it seems like I want to go around singing "These are a few of my favorite things" at the top of my not-quite-tone-deaf, but definitely-not-Julie Andrews-quality I thought I ought to join Hallie et. al. today and share a few of my most recent favorites with you!

My husband and I got some wonderful gifts this Christmas.  One of my favorites (and his, too) was something my extremely thoughtful and creative daughter-in-law, Regina (who is married to my oldest son), came up with.  The gift was a year-long subscription to a very special and exclusive artwork of the month club.   Regina took a 12-inch square plywood picture frame, with an off-center opening for a 5 X 7-inch photo of our three darling granddaughters, painted it, and added letters that spelled out "Little Pearl Art Club."  She glued two clothes pins on the bottom for the purpose of holding precious pieces of paper which she promised would be coming in the mail each month.  The card that came with this gift read: "Merry Christmas, Papa and Grammy!  And congratulations--you are the lucky recipients of a year-long membership to the Little Pearl Art Club.  Each month you will receive a new piece of artwork (original) by [one of your three granddaughters] and can display it on your Little Pearl Art Club Gallery, if you wish.  Enjoy your subscription and these priceless works of art."
Is that not THEE GREATEST GIFT A PAPA OR A GRAMMY COULD EVER WISH FOR?  It's a favorite, you betcha.
And yesterday, we received our first piece of artwork in the mail, an original masterpiece by one of our two-and-a-half-year-old twin granddaughters.  My daughter-in-law's note said: "January 2014--Your first piece of artwork from the Little Pearl Art Club is an original by [Cutie Pie] Pearl.  The medium used was tempera paint.  Toilet paper rolls were used to give a circular effect.  Enjoy."
We will!  We will!  And we can hardly wait for the next installment!

Have you ever heard of Alex and Ani bangle bracelets?  Before Christmas, I hadn't.  But my other daughter-in-law, Preciosa (who married son #3 in December), gave me one as a gift this year, and I am now a huge fan.  She chose a gold-toned bangle with a Notre Dame Fighting Irish leprechaun charm on it, and I just love it!  It's a favorite already--I wear it every day.  It's expandable, stackable, and incredibly comfortable to wear. 

I loved it so much, in fact, that I decided I really needed (yes, needed) to get another Alex and Ani bangle to wear along with the ND one.  There's an Alex and Ani store in a town about 20 minutes from where we live, and I drove over there yesterday to see what they had.  I ended up getting myself another gold-toned bangle with a Miraculous Medal charm on it.  I'm just tickled with it--especially because when I remove the Miraculous Medal I wear around my neck (when I'm wearing a scoop-necked dress and pearls, for instance), I like to wear one somewhere else on my person.  I don't like to be without this devotional at any time.  Now, if I take off my Miraculous Medal necklace, I can wear this Alex and Ani "Mother Mary" charm on my wrist.
Alex and Ani jewelry is made in the good old US of A (God bless America!) out of recycled materials.  In spite of their New Agey-sounding "positive energy" marketing slogan, they sell many items that include Catholic saints and other religious symbols.  I recommend a trip to their site--you might find a favorite piece of jewelry there, too.
Having daughters-in-law--talk about a favorite!  It's been so wonderful having young women join our family: two so far, and a third will be welcomed into the fold in about a month!  (Weddings of sons--another favorite!  I have so many favorites, it's hard to limit it to five!)  These young ladies are much more than just thoughtful, generous, and creative gift-givers; they are my daughters.  This has been so special for me, having these girls to love, after raising only sons.
With Regina, Christmas 2011.
That's Preciosa on the right, with me and her soon-to-be sister-in-law,
 at my soon-to-be-daughter-in-law's recent bridal shower.
(I'm working on a blog moniker for the new addition.)
Have you ever heard of eShakti?  This is my new favorite place to buy dresses!  If you haven't done so yet, you really must check out their site!  They sell the most lovely, modest, well-made dresses for women.  They're feminine and have a vintage look about them.  Recently, my daughter-in-law Regina told me she'd gone on there and used a $30 coupon to buy a dress.  You can order straight sizes, but she chose to send in her measurements to have hers custom-made, and she said it was the best-fitting dress she'd ever owned.  You can also change the sleeve length, neckline, and hem length of most of the styles--which is so fantastic, because I can't tell you how many times I've loved a dress at the mall but didn't buy it because it fell above the knee, and I really prefer to wear dresses that fall below the knee.  Well, at eShakti, it's up to you!  You can have a mini, a knee-length, a below knee-length, a tea-length or an ankle-length dress made out of a style you like.
For my first purchase, I used the first-time-buyer $30 coupon to order this gorgeous dress to wear to my #4 son's rehearsal dinner in February.  I chose to have the short sleeves lengthened so that they go down to the elbow.  What I didn't choose to do was to send in my measurements and have the dress custom-fitted, unfortunately.  I think I was embarrassed to have to give my waist size (which was never small, even before I gave birth to some oversized baby boys)--I figured I would be fine in the off-the-rack size I normally wear.  So...because I wasn't willing to reveal my measurements, to dressmakers whom I'll never meet in my life and who couldn't care less about my numbers, my dress is quite snug in the waist. I can zip it up, but barely.  If I had given my waist measurement, admitting the extra inch of room I needed, it would have been a perfect fit.  Now, I'll have to lose about five pounds if I want to be able to breathe in this dress at the rehearsal dinner.  Lesson learned.  My advice to you is if you go on the eShakti site to order a dress, pay the extra $7.50 to have it made-to-order.  I'm sure you won't regret it.
A positive review for my novel, Finding Grace, that's a favorite, I must humbly admit--especially when it comes from an unexpected source.
My book is targeted at females, mostly--both adult women and teenaged girls.  That's not to say that a man couldn't enjoy it.  But so far, the only men who have read it and raved about it happen to be some guys who are extremely close to me: my husband and two of my grown sons.  Although I believe they really did like the book, I can't help but wonder if their feelings were in part influenced by their affection for me.  Also, they are faithful, practicing Catholics and this is an unapologetically Catholic book.  It shows the beauty and Truth of the Faith, and the way those who live according to God's will and His laws are happier and more at peace. 
My younger brother (less than two years behind me in our family of five) has not been practicing the Faith as an adult, but he read the book recently and said that in spite of that--and also in spite of the fact that he's not a teenaged girl--he loved it.  He Facebook messaged me out of the blue about a week ago to tell me that he was reading it and that although it took about 85 pages for "its teeth to sink in," he was hooked and looking for every opportunity to read it.  He actually said, "I love it!"  You can't imagine what this review from my little brother meant to me!  More than some of the reviews I've gotten from professional writers, even.  Then yesterday, I got a follow-up Facebook message from him, telling me he'd finished it.  "I laughed and I cried (don't tell anyone!!).  I'm left waiting for the next novel by my new favorite author.  Please tell me there's another one brewing...Seriously, are you considering another?"
Blown away, that's what I am; utterly and completely blown away.  I never thought my little brother would even read Finding Grace, much less enjoy it as much as he said he did.  Sometimes, when I consider how fast this book is not selling, I slip into the bad habit of judging its success by worldly standards and thinking the whole undertaking was a bit ridiculous of me.  But then I get a review like this one...and I feel that perhaps this book is truly meant to touch just a handful of people (which is the way I thought of it when I was working on it).  And perhaps, just perhaps, its work is done already.
Okay, time to head over to Hallie's to see what other favorites bloggers are excited about sharing with you.


  1. So Alex and Ani IS an actual place... Haha I've heard commercials for them often, but they're so nondescript, I didn't exactly know what to think. I'm happy to hear they include some Catholic things! :)

    ~ Country Girl's Daybook
    Recently posted: Vintage Bluebird Locket Giveaway. -->

    1. Yes, it's an actual place. And they do have some nice things. (Aside from the religious medals, they have this charm with an open oyster shell and a pearl inside...methinks that will be a future purchase!)

    2. And I don't know why I kept spelling it "Alix" when I first wrote and published this post! Didn't catch that until today!

  2. I love the Art Club idea! Wonderful!!

    So nice that you get your fix of girly-ness now with daughter-in-laws. All of the fun of a daughter without all the angsty teenage years!

    1. I am thoroughly enjoying getting my fix of girly-ness! In fact, I'd never gotten a pedicure until my oldest son got married. Now I've gotten two--both on outings with my first daughter-in-law, Regina!

      These girls have brought some much-needed sugar and spice into my life. :)

  3. Love this blog and I love that our brother read Finding Grace and loved it as much as I did!!

    1. I just wasn't expecting him to get into it! I'm actually thinking about starting another book, because I don't want to let him down. :)

  4. I read this yesterday and typed a comment and it was eaten by the internet! Hate when that happens :) I'm really excited to check out that dress shop. Custom-made?? Sounds like a tall gal's dream. And I was touched by how you wrote about your brother. I have a special bond with my little brother so that resonated with me. I'm not surprised he loved Finding Grace. :)

  5. #1 is an adorable idea and it looks great in your kitchen! I can imagine you really love having those young women in your life. My daughter has two little girls and one boy and will soon have another boy. Two of each, nice mix!