July 13, 2010

stay tuned for a new Claremont Road!

As of tomorrow,
my new home on the internet will be at


I am so excited to unveil the new blog design, which is a bit cleaner and much more "me"; I'll be working tonight to transfer my Feedburner account over to the new URL, so those of you who subscribed to this blog via that "subscribe" link in the left sidebar will (hopefully) still see new posts in your feed without having to change a thing. However, technology and I aren't always the best of friends, so if you notice that you're not seeing new posts later this week, pretty please head on over to claremontroad.com and resubscribe. I'll be ever so grateful to know that you're still reading :)

Thank you so much for reading, and for sticking with me through this transition. I look forward to sharing more and more goodness with you as Claremont Road continues to grow!

July 12, 2010

Monday music, vol. 23: In The Summertime

Every Monday, I'll be sharing a pick-me-up song with the hopes of helping you begin your week on a positive note. Happy Monday!

This remains a favorite summer anthem of mine. (Try to ignore the frightening 70s sideburns, though.)

Buy this song here.

confectionary stencils

Artist Megan Herbert turned some of her illustrations into stencils for decorating coffee and desserts; I love that using these would allow fondant-impaired persons such as myself to create a presentable dessert without requiring too much work and frustration.

images via Megan Herbert, found via paper tastebuds

July 10, 2010

number 48: in which I check my inhibitions at the door (er, beach)

I did it. Number 48 on my list. I bared my pale, soft belly for everyone to see on a New Jersey beach.

Do I feel totally rid of every insecurity and inhibition I've ever had about my body? Of course not. Did I still catch myself covering/hiding my belly a few times? Sure. But did it feel pretty good to say "screw it" and put on my cute green bikini that I haven't worn since our honeymoon (where we didn't know anyone, and I was 8 pounds lighter)?


I'll be 30 in just over a month. I haven't had a flat tummy... ever. I have always carried those few extra pounds right around my middle. Even on our honeymoon, at my thinnest, I was still self-conscious about my belly. I haven't really lost weight recently, though I feel noticeably healthier since I've been working out more often. (Prime example: it was too hot to run outside while we were away, so I did a little Shred-ding with Jillian one morning — and it felt totally easy!).

On vacation last week with my family, I looked around on the beach one day and thought, I am nowhere near being the most fit person on this beach, but I am also far from being the least fit person on this beach. Women and men of all shapes and sizes were comfortable enough in their skin to wear whatever bathing suit their little hearts desired, and I didn't judge them for it. So why have I been judging myself so harshly?

I originally added number 48 to my list as a motivator to lose weight, like this fabulous lady did. And I still do hope to lose a few pounds, and be a little less shy to wear a two-piece someday, without feeling the need to suck in a little... but if I wait for perfection to don a bikini, I'll be waiting forever.

So, I did it. And it felt kind of good, imperfections and all.

July 1, 2010

oh, hi.

Happy July, friends! It's been another quiet week here at Claremont Road. I've been super busy with work and trying to soak up this awesome spring-like weather while it lasts.... oh, and working on getting a new (and I mean TOTALLY new!) blog design up. (Stay tuned! I'm pretty pumped about it.)

I'll be back as soon as inspiration strikes :)

June 28, 2010

Monday music, vol. 22: (I've Had) The Time of My Life

Every Monday, I'll be sharing a pick-me-up song with the hopes of helping you begin your week on a positive note. Happy Monday!

Nobody puts Baby in a corner.

Buy this song here.
See the scene from the movie (which I can't embed... boo)

June 27, 2010

stationery vs. stationary


June 24, 2010

my very own toy story

Last night, Nick and I went to see Toy Story 3 in 3D.... and there were no shortage of tears that resulted. I am a fan of the Toy Story series in general, and all of the movies have had touching and tearful moments (well, at least for me — I'm a crier), but this was some serious, I'm-sobbing-and-I-hope-no-one-can-see-me-behind-these-giant-3D-glasses kind of crying. If you've seen the movie, you probably know what I mean. (Or you just think I'm crazy and hormonal. Also true.) I'm not going to sell him out, but let's just say that someone sitting to my left may have also had tears running down his face.

What can I say? We're a bunch of saps.

I won't ruin the ending of the movie for anyone who has not yet seen it, but the premise of the film is that Andy, the toys' owner, is all grown up and going off to college; Andy no longer has the same need for Woody and Buzz (and the rest of his beloved toys) as he prepares to move on to his exciting new life. It's true that we all grow up and lose some of the emotional attachment we once had with our toys, but I'm pretty sure that we all had our own Woody and Buzz at some point; those toys that represent our childhood, our innocence, our happiness.

For me, those toys were my CPKs — my Cabbage Patch Kids. My two best friends — Jill and Denise — and I were totally in love with our CPKs. We went over to each other's houses and had CPK school, CPK parties, CPK dance recitals... CPK everything. We had piles upon piles of clothes and accessories for our kids. We were enamored with them and they truly were like our own children.

My first Cabbage Patch Kid was Carol — she had orange yarn for hair and she was one of the original dolls when the CPK fad first hit in the early 80s. I adored Carol, and she came with me wherever I went... including one fateful trip to the store with my mom where Carol was accidentally left behind. I was heartbroken when we couldn't find her, but never fear — Carol 2.0 soon became mine and all was right with my world again.

me with the original Carol;
please take note of my stylish Strawberry Shortcake shoes

and the delightful shag carpeting

Over the years, I collected more and more Cabbage Patch Kids — some were gifts, some I saved up for and bought with my own money, some were inherited from my older brother when the novelty of the boy dolls wore off on him. At one point, I had 12 CPKs. Excessive, perhaps, but they were my world. I really don't remember any other dolls or toys that I loved as a kid, and that was probably because I didn't have a lot of others. My joy came from my CPKs, so that's what I stuck with.

The summer before I turned ten years old, my mom, brother and I went to visit relatives in New Orleans. My dad still had to work, so he stayed home and held down the fort, and the days that he'd be on the road for work, our neighbors were going to stop in to feed our dogs. Of course I couldn't bring all of my CPKs to New Orleans with me, so I chose one to bring along — her name was Jillian and she was one of the new bath-time Cabbage Patch Kids who had a rubbery body that could get wet; she had silky blond hair and wore a cute little yellow bathing suit with bright pink polka dots, and a bathrobe on top. My other 11 kids stayed home.

The day before our trip, Jill, Denise and I had forced our parents to sit through a CPK dance recital in Jill's basement; my kids and their plethora of costumes were still in the garbage bag that I had transported them to Jill's house in.

Yes... a garbage bag. Do you see where this is going?

I remember leaving the bag at the bottom of our stairs, by the front door, in the living room of our house on Claremont Road. It was completely my fault; I should have put the bag in my room when I got back from Jill's house that day, or taken the dolls out of the bag entirely and put them away. But I didn't. To this day, we don't know who was responsible for disposing of the garbage bag, but it was just a very unfortunate accident. My kids were inadvertently put on the curb amidst the garbage and taken away. All I had left was Jillian, the doll I had taken to New Orleans with me.

We didn't realize what had happened until a day or so after we returned from our trip when I invited Jill over to play with our CPKs. She came from her house across the street with her own bag full of kids, while my mom and I looked everywhere for mine. We simply could not find them. And then, it hit us. When we finally realized what must have happened, I think my mom was as devastated as I was. I remember the look on Jill's face... she felt the loss, too. I cried and cried and cried.

It took a while to be able to joke about it, but my mom and I now refer to that fateful event as "the cruise" — as in, the cruise that my CPKs took... to the Bermuda Triangle.

Looking back, I was probably growing too old to still be regularly playing with dolls, and I didn't really want to replace all of my lost Cabbage Patch Kids; getting a Carol 3.0 just sounded like a silly idea. Perhaps losing them at that point in my life was a little sign that it was time to grow up.

I did eventually get a few more CPKs, but they could never have truly replaced my lost dolls; many of them became more like collectibles to me as I got older. They sat as decoration on the built-in shelves in my bedroom, and helped me to remember the old times. Denise gave me an artist Cabbage Patch Kid as a gift when we graduated from high school. It was a nice little reminder of who we once were all those years ago, and where we were going (I was headed to college to major in art). The Cabbage Patch Kids I gradually collected after "the cruise" are still tucked away in a bin in my mom's basement, including that artist doll who is still in her original box; maybe my future kids will enjoy playing with them someday.

It may sound crazy, but I still get a little choked up when I think about losing my kids. Recounting this story actually makes my heart hurt. Cabbage Patch Kids were such a huge part of my childhood, and although it may sound silly because they were only toys and not real people, that was really my first experience with heartbreaking loss. It was accidental and unexpected, and there was nothing anyone could do to get them back. Twenty years later, I can still clearly recall the sadness I felt.

I remember telling the story of "the cruise" to my friend Amy 10 or so years ago, and she had tears in her eyes as I relayed what happened. No matter who we are or where we came from, we can all relate to having that innocent, emotional connection with and undying love for a toy (or toys) as a child; fortunately, the memory of utter happiness and adoration for that thing is not something that can be taken away from you, even when the object is no longer part of your world.

Me with another one of my CPKs, years before "the cruise"

My childhood joy was my Cabbage Patch Kids... what was yours?

June 23, 2010

out with the old, in with the new

I bought myself some proper running shoes now that I'm taking this whole "physical activity" thing seriously. Aren't they pretty?

I won't even tell you how old my other shoes were... it's embarrassing how long I wore them (and how poorly they fit, which I didn't realize until now). My new kicks are Brooks Ravenna, and I feel like I'm wearing clouds on my feet! The Asics 1150 were a close second in my search, but they felt a little heavier, so the Brooks won out in the end. I got them a half size larger than my normal shoe size, which is what is recommended for running shoes.

I took them out for a test drive this morning, and they felt fantastic. They're not magical so I'm not quite running 5K yet, but once I do get there, hopefully my feet will be a little happier for having worn these! Now if someone could just tone down the freakin' HEAT in the northeast...

If you're in the Phillly metro area, I got these at the Bryn Mawr Running Company at 20% off, for a total of $79.00. I didn't find any cheaper pricing online, so they were a good deal for sure. And getting properly fitted at a specialty store is definitely the right way to go if you want the right fit.

June 22, 2010

flea market finds

On Sunday, we visited a huge flea market near Nick's parents' house (and "huge" may be an understatement; it's like nothing I've ever seen before). It is nothing short of awesome, and while I brought home a few treasures, there were many more that I left behind. As soon as we have more space, I can't wait to pick up more vintage goodness! (Nick is rolling his eyes as he reads this.)

I picked up this set of 3 children's books, published in 1959. No, we're not expecting, but I just couldn't resist the charming stories and illustrations (and they'll look cool in a baby's room someday!)

Apparently these books belonged to Ricky... should I call him?

We also found some cool old postcard books. I love the detailed illustrations and the colors; you just don't find postcards like this anymore.

What's your favorite flea market find?

June 21, 2010

101 in 1001... revisited

I haven't been keeping you all as up-to-date on my 101 in 1001 list as I did when I first started working on it. My apologies... I have continued checking items off the list, but many of them have been smaller things that aren't necessarily blog-post-worthy. I'll continue to keep you posted when I tackle any of the larger items, I promise!

The list really has kept me motivated to follow through with my goals, and evaluate new goals that I want to set for myself. I decided to replace a few things on my original list, since they may not necessarily be things that are applicable to my life anymore (for instance, I no longer have the goal of taking new classes at the gym, because I no longer have a gym membership!). I also have some new goals that I thought were a bit more noteworthy. And once something is on the list, I really have to hold myself accountable to get it done.

See my entire revised list here... I've also listed my new additions below.

Additions/replacements - 2010

6. start a business (April 2010)
45. run a 5K race
53. write a manuscript (and submit to publishers)
77. attend Altitude Design Summit
81. attend a Making Things Happen seminar with Lara Casey

And a few notes....

6: I already did this one, but it's a doozy, so I thought it deserved a place on my list ;) It's honestly been a goal of mine for years, but I never thought it would realistically happen before I turned 30. It did, though, and I've never been happier.

45: Since I've actually been keeping up with C25K (albeit at a slower pace than the actual program), I have decided that I'm really going to follow through and sign up for a 5K race (probably in the early fall). As the most unathletic person on earth, I'm slightly terrified, but it's an exciting goal.

53. I have had an idea for a book for a few years now, but I can never find the time to write it. It's time to make the time and just do it. Holler.

77. This conference is right up my alley; I found out about it too late in the game last year, so I'm going to try really hard to get there this year!

81. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that Lara Casey schedules more dates for MTH, and that I can afford to attend. She is an idol of mine who has accomplished so much so young, and I'd love to learn from her!

Monday music, vol. 21: Merry Happy

Every Monday, I'll be sharing a pick-me-up song with the hopes of helping you begin your week on a positive note. Happy Monday!

I love Kate Nash's sweet voice and honest lyrics... and I love that you can tell she's British. (Isn't it weird that some people, like Elton John, don't sound British when they sing, but other people do? I have always wondered why...)

Anyway, I like that this song is a little sad, but not in an angst-y way — it is actually kind of sweet.

Buy this song here.