One word for you today. Believe.

On 12-13-14, we lost a dear man, my Father-in-law passed away. Although we were anticipating this news for some time, it’s never easy and we never want to believe those we love are gone from this material world.

Yes, this year, I lost both my parents, 40 days apart and now my Father-in-law. He was a man of distinction and appreciated quality and lived a very nice life until the last few years where he was not really aware of much. As hard as it is to say good bye, it is even hard to believe.

My wish for each of you is to believe. Believe in the good. Find the light and be the joy. May each of you have a wonderful holiday and I will be back in the New Year.

a pop of red

























I wanted to share a personal story. This is true. I wore red shoes and red tights the very first time I met my in-laws, in New York City. I was 22 and thought that I should “stand out” and a pop of red seemed perfect for the holidays. When I arrived, I had to own my decision of bravery and be confident about my choice and not hide or regret my red legs and feet. The very first thing my Father-in-law said, was I like your “pop of red.” I said, “Why thank-you, I wanted to “make some spirits bright” as December can be so dark and cold.

My message to you is to do your best to make spirits bright. Even if you might not feel like it, go ahead anyway and wear a holiday pop of red, a vintage brooch or a hat. Just think about how your actions might help to lift the spirits of those around you. While we are all busy and feeling that we are in the home stretch, go out on a limb and get in the holiday mode. I too have been feeling way behind or less than, but I needed to stop that nonsense and remind myself it’s not about having it all done. It’s all about sharing a smile, finding the joy and creating or inspiring another person to feel good.












Would you wear a pop of red or bring something red and make some spirits bright?

Fa la la, La Barranca

La Barranca
It’s fun to keep things local and create artwork for people that I have never met and buildings that I also have never met but are near my neighborhood. I illustrated
“La Barranca” for a lovely local lady who is smitten with where she resides. She has a melting pot of cultures and religious interests but a penchant for all things spanish and this apartment building and she are a match made in heaven.
Happy Holidays
The inside greeting and message are for all to have a Happy Holiday. Do you still send cards via snail mail or simply turning to a virtual message? Wishing each of you a Happy Holiday and I am so honored for your kind comments in the midst of decking your own homes.
Don’t forget to check out the great all purpose cleaning starter kit at Branch Basics. Makes a great gift for the fa la la holidays and beyond.

making spirits bright – hassle free holiday tips

PvE-Holiday entry!560
This week, I am all about making spirits bright and wanted to share a few tips with each of you who might be looking for a hassle free holiday. There is something so welcoming about entertaining or being a guest to a well thought out holiday party. Follow these simple tips,

1. Tip 1. Establish a team of helpers ahead of time. Clearly delegate duties to each person.
VERY important, assign a budding photographer the tip of capturing photos. How many times have you
hosted and never had any photos as a memory. People love to be made useful.

2. Tip 2. Set up your kitchen for a quick clean up. Guests do not need to feel guilty for leaving you with clean up when everyone has a specific task.

3. Tip 3. Clear similar items together, ie, plates, cutlery. One person to clear plates. One to clear cutlery.

4. Tip 4. Pre-soak platters and have a bucket or bowl of soapy suds to soak cutlery.

5. Tip 5. Plan ahead and prepare party favors in a basket to have by the door as guests leave. Something as simple as bulbs and brown paper bags will long be remembered months after the party. A ready pop popcorn bag or a bag of hot cocoa and marshmallows.

Plan ahead and stock up on sparkling water, mixed nuts, olives and items that can be stored. It helps to have all those party items at the ready and not try to do it all the same day. Things like candles, napkins and serving trays can be stored in a container labeled “Holiday party box.”

What are some tips that help you to make spirits bright and enjoy a hassle free holiday?
This week, take advantage of stocking up on the branch basics all-purpose cleaning supplies. I love the starter kit. It makes a great gift, wrapped and ready to give or send to someone you know will appreciate a simple gift.

monday motivation – simple gifts

Everyone that I speak to seems to be striving for keeping things simple this season and looking for simple gifts to give. I gave myself the gift of branch basics which I spotted on Simply Seleta and as soon as it arrived, I began using the branch basics cleaning product and I am amazed at how simple and effective it is.
The kit arrives wrapped in this charming burlap bag. I know, adorable.
Simply mix the concentrate with water to the desired level of cleaning you need and you can even personalize the bottle with your own purpose. Genius.




The branch basics ingredients are simple. Non-toxic. Unscented and let me tell you it works. I have been using it on everything.




Check out Branch Basics today.  This week the Christmas sale is on and you can order a “gift wrapped Starter kit” at 40% off.

You can customize your very own scent, orange clove, peppermint or frankincense.

Take time to check out branch basics now.  

The holiday sale is good all week long.

Happy Saint Nicholas

PvE-Happy St. Nicholas559
If you have children or grandchildren, tell them about the St. Nicholas tradition.
Place your shoes outside your bedroom door or near an entrance, or by the fire like I used to do as a child.
Before everyone gets up the morning of December 6th, fill each shoe with a surprise or small treat.

Fill shoes, boots or stockings with a tree ornament, small game, hand written note, candy cane, chocolate and fresh christmas clementines.
I love the tale behind this day and how a little sweetness serves as a reminder to find the spirit of giving to others.


door to door

These charming young girls are living the life in Europe traveling and their Mother keeps a fabulous blog, House of Marlowe. I can honestly say that I don’t recollect when I began reading Crissy’s blog but if there ever was a storybook to illustrate, she would be an ideal candidate. Recently, I had spotted this image on her instagram feed and left a comment that I needed to capture that. I do that a lot. Firstly, how sweet are those girls standing in front of those amazing emerald green doors. I am glad that there was one for each and no sibling rivalry ensued. How fun to travel and create special memories while living abroad. Hop on over and knock at the door of House of Marlowe. I know you will never want to leave.

O Christmas Tree

Today, “The Tree” at Rock Center in New York City will be lit and it’s a day that no one dares drive in to the city for fear of major traffic and masses of people waiting for the switch to be turned on. While the holidays are about much more than “The Tree” – I cannot help myself and say “O Christmas Tree.” Surely, we all have hilarious stories of putting up tree disasters which “will go down in history.” One year we were all done and my husband had to snip something and accidentally cut the strand of lights. That was an O sh-t moment. We will get our fresh cut tree this weekend and decorate. Let’s hope it all goes smoothly. How about you, your tree up yet?


J.McLaughlin shop J.McLaughlin shop
It’s sure is beginning to look “Christmassy” and this recent shop that I illustrated is so festive. From the little old fashioned radio flyer (that my brother nearly lost his pinky from) to the magnolia garland, everything about it makes my heart feel two sizes larger. I must admit that I had a blast working on this and want to send out a Happy December to everyone. Not to worry, I will have some posts for those of you that celebrate other holidays too.
Here’s to checking your lists and finding the JOY of December.

friday friends

I will be blogging for my family business a few times a week and wanted to share this with you because I count each of you my friends. Friends share good things and let me tell you that Paul’s Fruit Market has something for everyone. Paul’s is located in Louisville, KY and began in 1945 but has a fresh new site!

If you want to take the stress out of giving, simply hop over to Paul’s new web site and shop on-line. Many of you know that my Father began Paul’s in 1945 and he passed away in July. Many of you who knew him, know that he loved nothing better than delivering baskets and boxes of fresh healthy fruit.