Remembering Vivi, the Greatest Aunt

Vivi_feature

Vivi

It’s never easy to let someone go, no matter how long you’ve had them. On Monday, my family said goodbye to my Great Aunt Vivi, and I’ve been battling with my grief and bouts of deep sadness ever since. At 1:00 this morning, I cried on the phone with my Aunt Kathy, who put it best: “She wasn’t just an aunt. She was another grandmother to you.” And she’s right. This feels like losing my Nana all over again. Vivi has been the matriarch of our family since Nana’s passing in 1998, but she was a mother and grandmother to us long before then. One blog post couldn’t possibly convey my love for her, but I’d like to at least try. So today, I’m raising a glass, sharing a few memories, and toasting to a life well and fully lived.

Erickson sisters

You may remember this photo from my Nana Tribute a few years ago. Nana (my paternal grandmother) is on the left, looking at her older sisters Ginny (middle) and Vivi (right). Vivi was the eldest of her sisters, and the last of her generation.

Joe + Viv

Viv was quick-witted and always said exactly what was on her mind. She and her husband Joe (who passed away in 2007) were the most hilarious couple I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. One of my favorite Joe and Viv-isms is a story Joe would tell about how Vivi farted loudly in bed one night and Joe said, “I don’t know how I’m going to explain to the cleaners how I got shit on the outside of my pants!” Ha!!! :)

Though they had no children, Joe and Viv loved all of their 17 nieces and nephews, 32 great nieces and nephews, and 23 great great nieces and nephews (wow!) as their own.

South of the Border

They had a special spot in their heart for my Dad — the youngest of his siblings — and later, Suzi and I. Above, Vivi is flanked by Suzi (right) and I (left) at South of the Border in South Carolina on our way to Disney World in 1992 or 1993. Joe and Viv didn’t like to fly, so they drove us down to Florida and back. They loved recounting the story of how Suzi and I thoroughly trashed the backseat of Joe’s Cadillac so that when we got home he traded it in for a new one.

McDonalds at Viv + Joe's

I loved visiting Viv and Joe’s house. They had a few toys and office supplies to keep me busy, but I mostly liked shining up the chandelier in their dining room (what a weird kid!) or putting on all of Vivi’s necklaces and clip-on earrings (she never pierced her ears) or pretending to sell them to Viv and Joe. Going to Viv & Joe’s almost always meant having McDonald’s, which was a treat for us as kids. I used to stay home “sick” from school sometimes so I could watch movies with my Nana, and Viv and Joe would always come by around lunch time with McDonald’s. It’s no wonder I played hooky so often! I was totally spoiled.

Christmas 1997

And speaking of being spoiled, Vivi would take me shopping every year for pretty dresses for Easter and Christmas, and sometimes back-to-school clothes. The dress above (I think this is Christmas 1997) is almost certainly a Vivi-purchased dress. Nana is leaning over to inspect a present on the left and my stepbrother Zach is admiring my skirt (or trying to make his way to the Hot Wheels). When Viv took me shopping, Joe would drive us to the mall and as we went off to Lord & Taylor (Viv’s favorite store), he would plop down in the chairs in the middle of the mall and take a nap. We’d wake him up when it was time to leave or grab lunch.

Vivi + Stan

I apologize for the grainy quality of this photo — my photography skills have improved a lot since this was taken in 2009! Vivi never commented on my boyfriends much, until I brought Stan home. She loved Stan. She would always make sure he sat next to her, and she’d hold his hand the whole time they were together, and she’d tell him over and over again: “I never thought anybody was good enough for Sami, except you.” ♥ She’d totally hit on him, too! But, then again, after Joe passed away, Vivi would vocally fantasize about being with a certain local Catholic priest too, so her love knew no boundaries. The below sound clip is proof:

My Dad, cousin Steven, and I are discussing the guest list for Vivi’s 90th birthday party, and he’s on the list! (By the way, one of her favorite movies was The Thorn Birds…)

The same day we recorded the above, Vivi questioned our motives for visiting her, the proceeded to gush about me, then my Dad:

The “big fat Italian” she refers to so lovingly would be Joe. Real nice, right? ;)

Vivi had an excellent memory, and was a great storyteller. Over the past few years, I recorded a few snippets like the two above, and I have another one I’d like to share, but it may be disturbing to young audiences. Vivi’s claim to fame is her excerpt in Steward O’Nan’s 2008 book The Circus Fire: A True Story of an American Tragedy, a study of the Hartford circus fire on July 6, 1944. Here’s Vivi’s story:

The file is large, so it may take some time to load, and there’s some distracting background noise later in the file.

Stan and I visited Vivi for the last time this past Saturday. It was hard to say goodbye, but I leaned in close to her “good ear” and told her I loved her. She wasn’t very responsive, but I know she heard me, she knew I loved her, and I always will.

Christmas 2013

“The ones that love us never really leave us.” ~Sirius Black, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (I love this quote from the movie). Vivi will live on in us through her stories, wit, and love.

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Maker Takes: Catching up with For The Makers

Maker Takes Bali Hai feature via @poorandpretty

You guys. I haven’t posted a Maker Takes recap since September — yikes!! My For The Makers monthly DIY boxes have been stacking up, and while I’ve cracked a few of them open to make Christmas gifts, I’m sad to say they’ve mostly collected dust. Over the past few weeks, I’ve opened them up and created at least one project from each box. We’ll start with the most recent collection: Bali Hai.

Maker Takes Bali Hai supplies via @poorandpretty

The tropical-inspired Bali Hai collection is full of bright colors and dazzling fake gemstones, so it felt like a warm ray of sunshine — a light at the end of the New England winter tunnel.

For the Makers - Bali Hai

Even though I love the theme, I deviated quite a bit from the Bali Hai tutorials. I chose not to use rhinestones on my Oyster Bay Ring (above left is FTM’s version), and used supplies from the Sugarcane Necklace and Nui Pocket Mirror to make a small string bracelet instead:

Maker Takes Bali Hai via @poorandpretty

I also glitterized my Nui Pocket Mirror instead of gluing giant gemstones to it.

For the Makers Bali Hai - Glitter Pocket Mirror via @poorandpretty

It was pretty simple: lay the open pocket mirror flat on a piece of paper, spread a thin layer of Mod Podge over the lid, sprinkle glitter over it and let it dry. Once dry, shake off the excess glitter, then spread another later of Mod Podge over it to seal it in. Pour the excess glitter back into its container. :)

Maker Takes Bali Hai finished projects via @poorandpretty

The only project I wasn’t thrilled about was the Kora Kona Blush. I used all of the hibiscus and beet root powder and it barely gives me any color. Maybe I mixed it with too much of the white arrowroot powder? I don’t know. It looks pretty dark in the bottle, but it doesn’t function well as a blush. I’ll save it for tinting lip balms or something!

Maker Takes catching up via @poorandpretty

As for my catch-up crafts, I made the Clique Shoe Clips from the High Gloss Collection (you might remember them from my Monarch outfit), a modified version of the Velvetine Headband from the Havisham Collection, the Noma Bracelet and Jensen Necklace (hey, that’s my last name!) from the Leif Collection. I totally deviated from the from The Stargazer Collection‘s Stellar Embroidery, but there weren’t very many ways of making the simple Miró Necklace from the Untitled Collection.

Maker Takes Havisham - Velvetine Headband  via @poorandpretty

I used a few fake gems from previous projects to bedazzle my Velvetine Headband. It’s very pretty, but becomes uncomfortable after a few hours of wearing it. I suspect this is because the velvet is only on the outside of the headband, not wrapped around the inside, so the metal is resting right against my head. My handmade yarn-wrapped headbands are much more comfortable.

Maker Takes Love Embroidery via @poorandpretty

I reeeally love how my embroidery came out. I taught myself how to do a heavy chain stitch from this Needle n’ Thread article, and used the hoop and fabric from The Stargazer Collection and leftover thread from the Brit + Co. and Timex watch embroidery kit. Very simple, very pretty. It will hang nicely in our bedroom when we finally get around to painting and finishing it!

What projects have you been working on lately? Need a monthly reminder to craft? Sign up for a For the Makers subscription here.

Full disclosure: This post is not sponsored by For the Makers, but if you sign up for a subscription using the link above, I will receive a small discount off of my next box. (Second image is from For the Makers.)

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Monarch Workshop + Free Printables

Monarch Workshop feature via @poorandpretty

Monarch Workshop 2015 via @poorandpretty

I took the day yesterday to let the weekend’s events settle over me, and I’m still coming down from the incredible high that was Monarch Workshop. There were so many wonderful, inspiring, creative women all in one room — it felt like home. It was home. Finally! I don’t have to travel to New York, San Francisco, or some other distance to find my kindred sisters.

Photo Booth - Monarch Workshop via @poorandpretty

It was two days of crafting, learning, yoga, networking, photo booth-ing (I’m with Melissa of the Haven Collective & Vintanthromodern Vintage and Bethany of Twenty Something Plus above), delicious food by Whisk + Brush, and lots and lots of hugs in Bananaland, Bridgeport. It was crazy cool women like Michelle Bablo who said “fuck this job” time and time again until she finally created her own kick-ass business as a “professional magic maker, gold fringe enthusiast & designer of colorful parties.”

Dream Team Q+A Panel - Monarch Workshop via @poorandpretty

And Katharine Marino of YogaKat Fitness, who is probably the most loving, calm person I have ever met. She taught us to love our bodies, shake out negativity, and be present. She had us all pick out little wisdom cards and think about how we can apply them to our lives. Mine said “do what’s simple,” which is kind of perfect because I overanalyze and overcomplicate everything.

Do What's Simple - Monarch Workshop via @poorandpretty

There was Nutritionist Debra Wolf who played us hilarious clips from Portlandia and showed us how to love our bodies from the inside out with healthy eating (and also: we consume far too much sugar).

Jennifer Paganelli of Sis Boom - Monarch Workshop via @poorandpretty

And crafter and textile guru Jennifer Paganelli of Sis Boom who left me with my greatest takeaway: own your path.

Monarch - Own Your Path doodle via @poorandpretty

Because my initial jot-down of this quote really doesn’t do justice to how much it resonated within me, I had to fancy it up a bit. I’ve designed it into two different printables/computer wallpapers:

Monarch-Own-Your-Path-wallpaper-1-via-@poorandpretty

Monarch-Own-Your-Path-wallpaper-2-via-@poorandpretty

Right click and save either image above to use it as a desktop wallpaper. You can also download higher resolution files to print and frame: download butterfly printable | download dots printable | download everything | these are large files and may take a while to download. :)

Photo Booth 2 - Monarch Workshop via @poorandpretty

I am so grateful to Jessica of The Confetti Bar and Latanya of Sprinkles & Booze for introducing me to this crowd of incredible creators. I’ve never felt so understood and accepted. I will be seeing a lot more of them that’s for sure! I’ve already begun to take what I’ve learned and work on myself and my future as a kick-ass entrepreneur.

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Celebrate Spring with 23 Floral DIYs

23 floral DIYs

Happy first day of spring!! It doesn’t quite feel like it here in Connecticut just yet, but I know it’s only a matter of time. I’ve found a few ways to fill our home with flowers, even if they aren’t blooming yet.

1. Botanical Napkin Rings via Terrain. Brighten up your tablescape with these easy to make floral napkin rings. This tutorial uses real flowers, but you can substitute fake ones if, like me, you live in what has apparently become the arctic zone.

2. Floral Wall Backdrop via I Spy DIY. I love the floral backdrop trend! I know the blooms will only last a few days before they wilt, but aren’t they so pretty?

3. DIY kate spade Floral Necklace via Bromeliad. Hmm… pay $300 for a necklace or make it yourself for under $20? ;)

Timex Brit + Co ParDIY - tissue paper pompoms

4. Tissue Paper Pom-Poms via Poor & Pretty. These have become a permanent fixture in our kitchen, and I always get compliments when we have people over. My response? “They’re so easy to make! Don’t ever buy them!” Seriously. Buying them is a rip-off, and you’re far too crafty and clever for that.

5. Fresh Flower Love Sign via Sugar & Cloth. I can’t get over how lovely this simple little sign is!

6. DIY Pressed Flower iPhone Case via The Etsy Blog. These remind me of the pressed flower bookmarks Suzi and I used to make with our Nana when we were little. :)

7. DIY Fresh Flower Framed Mirror via Paper & Stitch. How perfect would these be as a wedding day photography prop?! If I were putting this in my house, I’d want to use fake flowers because it would be such a shame to see them wilt after all that hard work!

8. Floral Spring Wreath via Dwell Beautiful. Wreaths aren’t just for Christmas, you know!

9. Tissue Paper Flower Garland via A Subtle Revelry. Here’s another pretty way to string up tissue paper pom-poms.

10. Magnetic Fridge Vases via Woods of Bell Trees. Leftover nail polish bottles + magnets = awesome new fridge decorations.

11. Sugared Blooms via Terrain. These would be so pretty on top of homemade cupcakes or pies! Just make sure to use edible, (and pesticide-free) flowers like roses or violas.

12. DIY Spring Flower Crowns via Green Wedding Shoes. Be the queen of spring in these ranunculusly gorgeous floral crowns. (See what I did there?)

13. Fitzgerald Floral Embroidery Kit via For The Makers. I love my monthly For The Makers kits and this one evokes springtime year-round.

14. DIY Floral Letters via Honestly YUM. I would like to X and O Erica of HonestlyWTF for this beautiful floral arrangement tutorial.

15. Giant Fresh Flower Ampersand via Paper & Stitch. I see your floral X and O and I raise you an &!

16. Flowers & Bees Paper Garlands via Highwalls. Here’s another great garland, made from wrapping paper!

17. Tulip Pens via Muslin & Merlot. Remember having all sorts of crazy pens in middle school? Heidi of Muslin & Merlot is totally bringing ‘em back with her tulip pen tutorial.

18. Giant Wall Flowers via You Are My Fave. Stan might start seeing these bloom all over the house soon…

19. Fresh Flower Hair Bows via I Spy DIY. The perfect garden party hair accessory? I think so.

20. Iron-Transfer Floral Duvet Cover via Design*Sponge. I know this tutorial is meant for college living, but I think this duvet cover would look beautiful in any bedroom.

21. Floral Stamp Greeting Card via Deb Duty. I’m not much of a paper crafter, but this handmade greeting card is just too pretty!

22. DIY Floral Necklace via Green Wedding Shoes. Another beautiful (fresh) take on floral necklaces.

23. Paper Cut Inspired Wall Hanging via Poppy Talk. A daily reminder to love what you do — and if you don’t, it’s time to do what you love.

What are some of your favorite springtime crafts?

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Color Love: Lucite Green

Color Love - Lucite Green feat

One of PANTONE’s color trends for this spring is Lucite Green ~ a pretty color that looks like the lovechild of seafoam and aqua. I loved putting this inspiration board together because it reminded me that spring is coming (eventually) and that there are actual colors in this world (not just white, brown, and gray). Here are a few of my favorite Lucite Green things:

Color Love - Lucite Green via @poorandpretty

1. Peekaboo Clutch by ban.do. // 2. Door Knob Curtain Tie-Back via Urban Outfitters. // 3. Cheer I Go Top in Mint via ModCloth. // 4. Make Love Not War Print by Patti Murphy. // 5. 3″ Chino Short in Seamist via J.Crew. // 6. Mossimo Bikini Top & Bikini Bottom via Target. // 7. Copper and Dipped Enamel Arrow Ring by miju. // 8. 2015 Mint & Gold Confetti Planner via Paper Source. // 9. Seafoam Nail Polish by 100% Pure.

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