Gave you what you wanted…


8 for 20

Over the next few weeks you will be able to see some of the gifts I’ll be giving this season (with tips on how you can easily purchase or make something similar).  Let’s begin with some Secret Santa gifts that set me back less than $20 total.

A bit of backstory: each year I participate in a Secret Santa gift exchange at work.  There are only two rules; you can’t spend more than $20, and you have to purchase an ornament out of that amount (which is used to reveal each Santa).  After choosing your person you receive a listing of their favorite candy, snack, non-alcoholic beverage (it is work), hobby, color, and the like.   Everyone hangs their stockings at the start of December so gifts can be deposited as often as Santa sees fit.  You can open your gift(s) at any time or all at once. Trying to guess who your Santa might be is highly encouraged.  With any luck, all of the Santa’s identities will remain a mystery until the ornament reveal happens at our holiday lunch.

This year I challenged myself to see how many nice things I could give my ‘secret’ while keeping within my $20 budget.  This person likes chocolate, golds and greens, coffee, and owls…here’s what I purchased or made and will be secretly delivering over the next 7 days…

  1. Ghiradelli Sea Salt Cashews ($3.80 from Amazon)
  2. Holographic Glittered Bronze Owl Ornament ($4.99 form Walmart)
  3. Golden Mechanical Pencil Assortment ($3.00 from Target’s Dollar Spot Christmas Collection)
  4. ‘Warm Hands Warm Heart’ Knit Gloves ($1.00 from JoAnn Fabrics)
  5. Aloe Plant in 6″ Clay Pot and Saucer ($1.00 plant from Lowe’s. I had the pot and saucer, acrylic paint and ribbon on hand. I cleaned and then painted the pot and saucer with 3 coats of acrylic paint, then  glued ribbon around the top of the pot, leaving enough extra ribbon to tie into a pretty bow.)
  6.  Starbucks Card (given to me and being re-gifted; a $5 value that technically cost me zero.)
  7. Infinity Scarf (I used this silky beaded charmeuse fabric which I had left over from another project, to make the scarf.  Search Pinterest for “how to make an infinity scarf”.  Even a novice seamstress can make an infinity scarf in less than an hour. And since I already had the fabric and thread on hand the scarf cost nada to make.)
  8. Golden Writing Case with Notes ($3.00 from Target’s Dollar Spot Christmas Collection)

…A little ingenuity combined with some re-gifting, material re-sourcing, and sweat equity, and I now have 7 days of gifts, plus and ornament, for $17!  Now all I need to do is deposit each gift unnoticed, hope the person likes what they’ve received, and can’t figure out I’m their Santa until I give them the owl!

How about you?  Will you participate in a Secret Santa or other type of gift exchange this year?  What sorts of gifts do you plan on giving (or making)? I’d love to know…



Motion pictures…

1 down…8 to go

One of my favorite Thanksgiving-Christmas traditions is to see as many new movies as possible.  I love everything from the lobby posters and displays (which I used to build) to the overpriced refreshments (I am a coke and popcorn kinda’ girl) to the previews and finally the movie itself.  About the only thing I don’t like is the ‘roller coaster’ intro, which makes my motion sickness kick into high gear every time!

After what seems like a months-long movie drought I am looking forward to the following November-December releases:

I also saw my ninth pick,  ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ , this past weekend as a respite from 3 days of football and turkey.  I was pleasantly surprised by the movie, which cast a sneaky sort of charm over the audience.  It was beautifully shot, with lots of CGI as you might imagine. Was it great? No…but it WAS entertaining (no nudity! no cursing! no drugs!) and appropriate for wizards, muggles, non-mags, and beasts of all ages.

How about you?  Do you like to see movies when they come out or do you prefer to wait and watch them from the comfort of your couch?  Are there any movies you want to see this holiday season? I’d love to know…


Thank you very much….

And I am

Last week I featured a mantle design that I hoped to make for Thanksgiving. I was aiming to have everything finished a few days ago but…..I actually finished an hour ago.  In between getting our turkey in the oven and planning my weekend shopping I am so thankful…for my family and friends, for my health, for my faith, for my creativity, and most importantly for each day I wake up and get to do it all over again.  Happy Thanksgiving!

11-18 Epherma

It’s the Great Pumpkin

With Thanksgiving only days away I am preparing to have my family under the same roof for the first time since August.  We’ll be cooking up our traditional feast (turkey, sausage stuffing, mashed potatoes with gravy, mushrooms, bourbon cranberries and crescent rolls – YUM!) and watching a lot of football and Netflix to kick off the holiday season.  I’ll spend this weekend working on my ‘Thankful’ mantle design (see my vision here) and hope to show you the finished product on Monday.  Until then, here are a few things from the world wide web that captured my attention this week…

  • I spent some time looking at the million plus Instagram Thanksgiving Pics
  • I’ve been browsing magazines of every kind at Issuu – including an endless stream of holiday catalogs to inspire my holiday shopping
  • I love me some books and plan on reading at least 6 of the Washington Posts’s 10 best books of 2016 (plus 100 more, just in case)
  • I need to visit Amsterdam so I can have Fashion High Tea at the Museum of Bags and Purses

What are you up to this weekend?  Whatever it is, here’s hoping it goes well…


I love to take a photograph….


Imagine if you can

Lately I’ve really been into staging our living room mantle.  For years its primary purpose has been to showcase an ever-changing homage to birthday cards, athletic awards, professional recognitions, flowers, books, special pictures, academic achievements and the like.   My first attempt at a creating a mantle ‘look’ was this past Halloween and I was so happy with the results (see my dream and reality here) that I am attempting a Thanksgiving look next.

The hanging rectangles (pictured above) represent photos of special people, places and things near and dear to my family’s heart. I’ve got to look through TONS of physical and digital pictures which might take some time since it’s hard for me not to get lost down memory lane when I look at the captured moments of our lives.  Once I have enough images then I will mount each one on cardstock and hang from the ceiling using white and gold ribbons.

A quick trip to JoAnn for paper mache letters, primer, and metallic gold paint should translate to a shiny ‘thankful’, which may (or may not) end up nested in fresh magnolia greens. Candles? Again, I am not sure.  My way is to dive into the making of a thing and see what happens.  Once I begin to hang our thankful photos the final design will suggest itself (or at least I hope so).

Check back next Monday to see how it all comes together…I’d be thankful if you let me know what you think of the outcome.



How much should we give…


I spent my afternoon walking through the Field of Honor at The Hermitage.  The exhibit features 50 rows of 20 flags each, many sponsored by local businesses and proud families, all standing in tribute to our veterans past and present.  The display overlooks the graves of Civil War soldiers from both sides and taken together make for a somber and reflective experience.  If our veterans and their families hadn’t made the sacrifices they did (and do) I would not have the freedoms I so often take for granted.  My sincerest hope is that everyone take a moment on Veteran’s Day to remember our military men and women, and if you happen to see a soldier say ‘thanks’.  It’s the least any of us can do.


She works hard for the money…

Business Boutique Swag

This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending Christy Wright’s Business Boutique, a two-day event held in Nashville. It was awesome! Regardless of whether you are a dreamer, starter, or builder you must attend this event if it comes to your town.  Read on to learn why… Continue reading “She works hard for the money…”

Ain’t nobody’s business but my own…

I am beyond excited to be attending Christy Wright’s Business Boutique event this weekend.  I’ll be joined by 2,999 other dreamers, starters, and builders as we learn to take our business games to the next level.  I am really interested in the marketing and social media talks, as well as the breakout session focused on how to make your product stand out on Etsy.  Since this will be my first opportunity to showcase ‘The Grey Goddess’ since its inception a year ago I want to make a good impression by wearing the following outfits.

Biz Boutique Day 1 – Pumpkin Spice
BP Knit Bell Sleeve Pullover  |  ASOS Curve Maxi Skirt with Front Layer Panel  | Mock Croc Structured Tote  |  Opaque Tights  |  Vagabond Mandy Western Chelsea Boots  |  Patricia Nash Vintage Scarf  |  Kate Spade ‘Burst Into Bloom’ earrings |  lip gloss  |  leather journal  |   my new business card
Biz Boutique Day 2 – Checks and Balances
Melissa McCarthy Seven7 Flannel Shirt   |  Calvin Klein Ultra Suede Leggings  |  Silver Hoops  |  ASOS Metallic Tote |  Sephora Ultra Shine Lip Gloss  |  Opaque Tights   |  Chance Perfume  |  Marc Fisher Nellien Pointy-Toe Block-Heel Booties

I’ll let you know how the weekend goes so stay tuned…


It’s creepy and it’s spooky…

The reality

I did it!  A few weeks ago I mentioned that I was going to decorate my mantle by Halloween and I actually finished the project with one day to spare!

The inspiration

Read on to see how I went from inspiration to reality… Continue reading “It’s creepy and it’s spooky…”

Had me a real good time…

Ain’t She Sweet

We were in Mobile for a quick get-a-way and to join our youngest for a Parents Weekend Celebration. It’s amazing how much stuff you can do in a day or two if you put your mind to it… Continue reading “Had me a real good time…”