Friday, March 28, 2008

"April In Paris...." LET THE GIVEAWAY BEGIN!


THIS IS THE POST launching our "APRIL IN PARIS" giveaway -- and all you have to do to enter for a chance to win is LEAVE ME A COMMENT on THIS post.

To leave a comment here, scroll to the end of THIS POST and click on the word "COMMENTS" and enter. You can leave comments through Friday, April 4th.

On Saturday, APRIL 5th, we'll randomly draw a name (well, actually we'll use an online random number generator to choose which comment will win) and VOILA! -- it's "APRIL IN PARIS" for one lucky winner! I'll need to contact you to get your mailing info, etc. so we can mail you the prize package! FUN!
These are the special Paris-themed things I've been putting aside with this giveaway in mind (BE SURE TO CLICK ON THEM FOR MORE DETAIL!)

Now for the"exhaustive" listing.....the..."piece de resistance"...

(Click on the various links in orange below to get the details on certain items!)

  • 4 little Eiffel Tower French-bowls (cream ceramic with black desgin $25.00 value)
  • A gorgeous assortment of various handmade Paris-themed tags (several designs)

  • An Eiffel Tower key chain ($4.99 value)
  • A fun Paris notebook/journal from Cavallini -- BRAND NEW design just released! ($12.00 value)

  • Gorgeous Eiffel Tower double-sided pendant ($23.50 value)

  • Fabulous Paris Luggage Labels Collection - package of 20! ($8.95 value)
  • A collection of authentic, vintage French dictionary pages - old, beautifully mellowed and ready for any number of ways to decorate or craft! (value: "priceless")
  • "Mais Qui?" A super cute little French phrases book

  • Capri Blue's "Paris" scented candle -- an absolutely FABULOUS scent from one of the best candle lines around!! ($12.50 value)
  • Eight Paris-themed cards/envelopes in beautiful sepia tones!

  • 6 vintage French military uniform buttons in silver (aluminum maybe?) - gorgeous!

  • Approximately 5 yards of French cotton ribbon with the names of famous Paris landmarks done in black with white ink...INCREDIBLE RIBBON!! Over the years, when we've put this ribbon on packages shipped from our store, and when the customer gets the package and sees the ribbon, we've gotten requests from our customers for just the ribbon! Its so unique! What would YOU do with it??

  • A gorgeous, large (20" wide x 28" high) sheet of decorative/wrapping/crafting paper in our Pink Paris Collage print from Cavallini. OH MY WORD! This is a gorgeous sheet of fine Italian paper that you will have NO problem finding something beautiful to do with! Hmm...Italian paper with a French design...sweet!
  • And WHO KNOWS WHAT ELSE I might add between now and April 5th!

I'm so excited to give these lovely things away -- they certainly appeal to me and I hope they do to you, too. I know I would love to win this collection! :)

Well...let's GET STARTED, shall we??

Click on the "Comments" link just below (in orange) and register - but please don't opt for "anonymous" since it will make determining who you are quite difficult if you win! ;)

P.S...You need only enter once... :)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

"APRIL IN PARIS" Giveaway coming next!

Our next posting will be the "official" launch of the giveaway and it is the posting that you will want to leave your comment on in order to be part of the giveaway.
I've been adding to the stash of French/Paris-themed goodies for about a month and now its time to give 'em away to someone!

Be looking for the next post (sometime next week) and see what all we've collected to be given away!
ALSO, I haven't stopped buying yet! More gorgeous new items are arriving and being photographed (hint, hint, hint...see the ceramic glove form in the photo??)

(click on any of the pix to get a closer look!)
We're added an INCREDIBLE range of candles that I discovered which I think you'll be VERY pleased with.

So many BEAUTIFUL new things, there won't be space here to show them all!

Yes, there will be "faux goodies", too...just wait, they are to die for...

In case you haven't seen our new "World Landmark" shower curtains yet, here's a peek at one:

OK, OK -- so you KNEW we'd show you the Paris one...we also have London's Trafalgar Square, Venice (with a gondola in the foregound) and the Brooklyn Bridge! Wanna see 'em all? CLICK HERE!

Just wanted to let you know to be on the look-out for the next posting and invite you to then leave your comment and be entered in the giveaway -- you won't be sorry you did!!

Au revoir for now...


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Lessons from Mr. Magorium (and my own "Wonder Emporium")

Am I the only adult out there who gets more emotionally touched by movies geared toward kids than those made for "grown ups?"

I know I'm a bit behind the curve, but only just last night did I watch Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium

Oh my word...tears, emotion, analyzing, relating to my own life...And this is supposed to be a children's movie!

Happens to me every time!
I even had to leave the room one day while watching Pooh's Grand Adventure: The Search For Christopher 
That Pooh movie ever-reminds me of my daughter growing up and going off to school at the end of each summer vacation and I just simply can't make it through the movie without squalling. But I digress...
The Mr. Magorium movie was another such unexpected "learning curve" for me -- what was supposed to be a rather fluffy, feel-good movie about toys and wonder instead was a powerful message seemingly meant just for me.

Sure, the movie has plenty of the stuff that kids love - the impossible toys-coming-to-life stuff, etc. -- but I wasn't seeing that - I was hearing the message on almost a parallel level while watching the's the gist:

Mr. Magorium loved life - every second of it - and saw magic in everything. Much like how I strive to live my life. He believed that anything was possible - no matter what the nay-sayers would have you believe. I was loving it!

And then comes the part where you realize what he's up to-- he's making his plans, rather matter-of-factly, to "exit" this old world. He realizes he is "leaving" as he so gently puts it, and proceeds to put his magical affairs in order.

But in the process, he gives others (including the viewers) the gift of "seeing" the magic in things and of believing in themselves.
Who of us has not been there at that point of wondering, questioning, pondering what we thought we'd be vs. what we are?
Are you "there" now?

Do you wonder what happened to 'the girl who used to be you' and wonder if she even exists any longer? Do others see that sparkle in your eye anymore? Or do they just see tired eyes that no longer dream big and really believe in those dreams?

I could so relate to the young girl who was his shopkeeper (played by Natalie Portman). She wonders where her "magic" has gone -- what happened to the "potential" everyone saw in her. She loses confidence and begins not to believe. She is handed an incredible opportunity, having been bequeathed the magical toy store she has worked faitfully in for years, yet she falters and feels inadequate to do so.

Never mind that she's been managing it for years; she feels unable to move, frozen in her fear of doing it now officially on her own.

Sound familiar?
But take a critical step back for a moment and think about it. Think of all we, as women/mothers "manage" without even realizing it or even being even a little amazed by it. We just take for granted that we manage the equivalent of a corporation right in our own homes.

Think of each and every little thing you do during the course of a day, a week, a month, etc. -- and don't forget a thing, count everything you do -- things that if you were to disappear, wouldn't be done. You will be amazed! So why do you suppose it is that when we very same women, who manage things in our comfort zone (home) freeze at the idea of using those same talents, that same creativity, those same fabulous organizational/motivational skills (ever seen a big-shot CEO get a kid motivated to do a school project they hate?) to go beyond our comfort zone, "out there" in the world?
Right now, for me this struggle is in the area of pondering the question: "Do I or do I not finally open the "brick & mortar" version of my store, The Beautiful Life?"
I've been successfully running it for almost 10 years online and the dream of a "real" store is stronger than ever now.
When I saw Natalie Portman struggling in the same way in the movie last night, it was such a powerful message to me.
Sometimes we just need someone to believe in our dreams for us, or with us.
She had Mr. Magorium. Do you have a "Mr. Magorium" in your life?
Someone who sees (or still sees) that potential that we have not yet fully realized and even perhaps lost sight of?
They still see the dream that everyone but you knows is just waiting to be brought to life, because maybe you put it "on hold" for so long you've actually forgotten it?

Maybe you've even forgotten how to dream.
One of my husband's favorite quotes is "If you hide from the risk, you hide from the reward".

Sometimes we have to ask ourselves if we're just mouthing the words because they sound good or are we really living what we say we believe?
Now, I'm not recommending that everyone throw caution to the wind and make unwise, wholesale changes in their lives in order to selfishly "find themselves". Especially so if you still have small children at home who need you.

BUT! Even during the seaons in our lives when the "big dream" may need to wait in the wings... the roots of that dream (whatever skills, talents, passions have created that dream) can always, always be utilized, honed and enjoyed in your everyday life.
This is the time of perfecting the dream -- using the creativity that will one day drive your "bigger dream" right now, in your every day life to create a 'dreamy' life for those around you.

Because, if it truly is a passion for you, it will simply have no choice but to manifest itself in all you do.

Whether its creating a cozy, lovely home for your family while your children are young, or its the attention to detail that you put into the smallest of tasks that everyone notices about you... Whatever "it" is, its in you - its not some "thing" that must be put on a shelf for "someday". So go ahead, begin today living the dream in whatever form is feasible for this seaon of your life.
If that describes you right now, I urge you to go out and rent Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium.
I can almost guarantee you'll get more out of it than you bargained for -- if your "eyes" (and your heart) are open.
And remember this:



A ...


And don't forget to dream. BIG.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Nothing to do this weekend? These sites will keep you busy!

Itching to get away?? Boy have I got a suggestion for you....
If this weekend finds you anywhere in the vicinity of London, consider laying your head on the pillow in one of these impeccable establishments -- The Savoy Group of London is a collection of the finest hotels that have been around longer than you or I and most likely will be around to welcome your descendants.
The Savoy Group includes these four classic, benchmarks of pure luxury & elegance: The Savoy (currently closed, undergoing extensive renovation until 2009), Claridges, The Berkeley and The Connaught...Any one would be fit for a King -- or you.

Take a peek inside Claridges -- it is elegance beyond compare:

Or, you may prefer The Berkeley -- don't you just love the modern but oh-so-classic bedroom? Or how about the ever-so-ultra all-purple restuarant!
But...This was the capper -- The Berkeley offers an exclusive package they call "Girl's Night In"

and just see what is included with this fabulous PINK box:

Diptyque candles, in-room mini-manicure, browse through the wide range of legendary chick flick DVD’s available from Sleepless in Seattle to Breakfast at Tiffany’s, while grazing from the ‘Girls’ Night In’ pink hat box delivered to the room containing classic goodies such as a tub of Skinny Cow ice cream, giant box of Maltesers,Kettle Crisps, Hope and Greenwood Sweetie Cones, Green and Black chocolate and sweet and savory popcorn, a DDF goodie bag full of treats from their Strawberry body polish to their Detox face masks. Girls staying at The Berkeley also have full access to the roof-top health spa with it’s spectacular swimming pool and private sun terrace, which open to the sky in fine weather - perfect for topping-up your tan!
So, ladies, what'll it be? Just another weekend doing laundry or will it be 'Ello, mate - we're here for the Girl's Night In!'?

Well, when I'm not dreaming of trips abroad, I'm surfing Etsy -- isn't that THE most incredible site? (Well, next to my site, of course -- hee, hee).

Here are some things I've stumbled across that I'm trying so hard to be good and not buy. But why?? At these prices you can't go wrong?

I absolutely ADORE the wording on the "Patron of Mothers" charm above! Who hasn't thought that at least once during motherhood?
I am continually amazed at the incredible one-of-a-kind works of art that are available on Etsy...I'm officially hooked and go there almost daily to see what's new. I admit, I've 'done some damage' on Etsy since I discovered it a month or so ago, but considering the mountain of things I've gotten so far, I really haven't spent that much and it's all unique and most can't be found just anywhere.
Just look at the incredible jewelry made by Talula (OK -- first, her name is Talula -- with a fab name like that, she was BORN to be artsy!). I want one of everything she makes!! A lot of her jewelry incorporates one of my favorite things -- old keys! Her jewelry so inspired me, that I now plan to try my hand at making a 'key necklace'. I'll post a picture of it here if I actually get it made!

Then, there is the whole addiction to web clip art -- free, of course, so you are free to right-click your way to all kinds of new things to create.

The vast and seemingly unending supply of all manner of imagery on sites such as The Graphics Fairy - even if you only use the graphics as desktop backgrounds on your computer, its worth the trip to this site!! Below are just six samples of images I found that I can't wait to put to use somewhere (you'll probably see them on the store's website being used somehow) -- and this is just six out of about three thousand! - Well, it seems like three thousand anyway...

You can print them out full size, right from your computer and VOILA - there you have it! A fabulous image -- FOR FREE! Use your imagination and see what you can find to do with some of the wonderful clip art available online! You just may surprise yourself!

Of course, if it is actual paper and bits of ephemera (as opposed to 'virtual' ephemera which you download) you are itching to get your hands on, look no further than The Beautiful Life --plenty to occupy hands of all ages!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

New Products, New Directions, New Energy (or is that just the caffiene kicking in?)

This weekend began on a fun note and the fun hasn't stopped yet!
Last night (Friday) after a long few weeks of nothing but photo shoots and receiving in new inventory, I decided it was time for a little quality "GIRL'S TIME"! daughter and I holed up in our entertainment room in our carriage house/barn/office to spend the night watching TV and plundering the snack jars!
We had the usual assortment of necessities: Whoppers, Milk-Duds, Reese's Cups, Squirms (try them if you haven't yet!), etc.
Nicodemus the dog was there, with his array of "movie snacks" (rawhide, biscuits) and off we were on our all night adventure.
It was wonderful! So much so, we are planning a repeat performance Sunday night, too! Afterall, there are still some Whoppers and Duds left!

Today was spent at one of the most awesome outdoor art shows ever!! Artists from around the country gathered to display their works and it was truly breath-taking! Oh, the things the human mind can conceive!

Spring is in the air (well, it certainly is here in the Tampa Bay area of Florida) and we have a very timely "surprise" for you...
What better way to welcome Spring than with the addition of a dapper little French fellow named Marcel? Or Leon? Or Gaston? Or Arthur? Or Nestor?
Who in the world am I talking about?? Just have a look

Their shiny, rosy-red cheeks and lips are bound to bring a smile to anyone.
How can you resist?? We don't think you'll be able to!
There are three to choose from -- or you could always keep them together and adopt all three!
And, as if having them in foot-and-a-half height figurine versions weren't fabby enough, we also have these sweet little French fellows on
a new line of dinnerware, too!

Now, gnomes are not all we've been busy with...We've added so many beautiful, unique things with you in mind...We've launched a new area of the store which we hope will equip you and encourage you to do something creative each day, even in little ways. Here are just a few of those kinds of new products:

We'd be so interested to see pictures from you of some of the creative ways you are using the items from our Create! Imagine! department. Some ideas already out there are using the stickers/labels (some are shown above) to decoupage a room divider screen which you've painted -and even stamped a bit using our fabulous French stamp collections! Send us some pictures and we'll enjoy posting them here for others to get inspiration!
ANOTHER FABULOUS IDEA for some of the labels and stickers is to put them on a glass or ceramic canister to decorate an otherwise plain-jane item! I have several vintage-style clear glass canisters in my kitchen that I've simply added a French label to and VOILA! instant "new" canister! I use the jars for lots of teabags, cookies, dog treats, etc. Try it!

Hope you'll "stop by" the webstore soon and see it all -- too much to list here!

ONE LAST THING!! Its now March and toward the end of the month, we'll launch our "April In Paris" giveaway! It will be a treasure-trove of Paris/French themed goodies that any true Francophile (lover of all tihngs French) will be VERY LUCKY to win!! STAY TUNED!