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Posted in Dear Mom

Memorial Garden

I already learned that it’s still hard dealing with the fact my mom isn’t here….I realized that the 2nd year without was a lot harder than I anticipated. Even knowing all that, I wasn’t prepared for the emotions that would hit me today returning to my middle school. As soon as my sister and I were out of middle school, my mom became an Algebra teacher there. Today they dedicated the Patricia Gotimer Memorial Garden in her name. The garden came about as an Eagle Scout project for one of her students in her last year of teaching; even leaving school at Thanksgiving, my mom made a profound enough impact on this young man that he took the initiative to build a garden for her at her school.

Even knowing that I’d see her friends, colleagues and some former students, I wasn’t prepared for all the feelings – and that became abundantly clear as I couldn’t even get through my short speech I had prepared without tears, lots of tears…

Mom, this one’s for you. You always loved seeing your students succeed and watch them do amazing things…well Tommy knocked this one out of the park. The old beat up courtyard that used to just be used by skateboarders, well now it’s a permanent place for you at ERMS.

It has been said, “Being a good teacher is a lot like being a good gardener. Good gardeners are optimistic and patient. They are able to see the potential in those struggling young seedlings and enjoy watching them grow, develop and bloom. They give special tender loving care to those few plants that are struggling and not thriving.”

East Ridge was a second family to my mom; both the staff and students. My mother’s best friends were some of you here today. You were her friends, confidants and family when Sarah and I grew up and moved out. For about 1200 Ridgefield students, she was their math teacher who loved to teach Algebra and she was so fiercely passionate about her students’ successes. For 15 years, she started the school year by decorating her classroom with students’ favorite numbers covered in pictures of things that were important to them. I imagine if she created her own, it would be the symbol for Pi, adorned with math symbols, a deck of cards, a picture of Sarah and me, a Yankees’ logo, pictures of the beach and flowers. When she wasn’t preparing class plans or grading quizzes and tests, she always loved to garden.

I can think of no better way to honor my mom than through this garden. It is comforting to know that there will still be a little place in Ridgefield for her even though she is gone. On behalf of my sister, Sarah, myself and our entire extended family, we want to thank everyone involved in making this garden happen. We would especially like to thank Tommy for his idea and hard work to create this lasting memorial for my mom and thank the entire community for the love you have shown us over the past few years.

Posted in diy

{Creative Palette} Deconstructed Canvas & Wooden Tray

March marked the 1st Creative Palette class of 2019 at 2nd Chance Restoration! As always, Kelly had some amazing rustic/farmhouse designs picked out for our projects. We created a wooden tray and a deconstructed canvas sign during class. The wooden tray was the same one we created in February 2018; it’s important to note that Kelly tries not to do the same project again – but this one was a customer favorite and requested by many, so she caved and did it again.

We started the evening with a project that guest teacher Shauna Rogg was back for, the same Shauna from Cricut 101. Shauna passed out a blank canvas sign, such as this one which can be found at any craft store, to everyone. We took our 8″ x 10″ canvases and using an X-ACTO knife, we cut the canvas right outside the staples on the back of the frame. Once we had the canvas removed from the frame, we laid it down flat underneath the frame and taking the same knife, we trimmed the canvas to be the same size as the outer edge of the frame as we would be applying an iron-on and attaching the canvas to the back of the frame. With the canvas ready, we took our wooden frames into the staining room and stained them. Kelly had three options of stain to pick from – a dark brown, light brown and light grey – I used a mix of the two browns. We then placed the frames on another table to dry and went back to the classroom to begin on the second project; our trays.

Kelly already had the boards cut for us; we needed two 14″ boards, four 21″ boards, 2 handles, 8 screws and sand paper. Step one was to sand all of our boards and assemble our trays upside down. The two 14″ boards which would be on the top of the tray with the handles, were set down on the table at the end of the 21″ boards perpendicular to them, laying on top. Once the trays were set up, we used a power drill to screw the long boards to the short boards from the bottom (so you don’t see them when you have the tray out and in use). We then flipped the trays right side up and measured out where we would be installing the handles, marking the spots for the handles to be attached with a permanent marker. Then we headed back into the staining room to stain the tray. Last year I made a grey one, so this year I made a light brown one – the trays were then put on Kelly’s drying rack to dry.

While our trays dried, we cleaned up our tables, grabbed our frames that were now dry and then got a pre-made iron-on from Shauna which said “home sweet home”. We decided where on the canvas we would put the iron-on. Many people put their phrase centered and straight, but I wanted to make mine on an angle, because I don’t like to follow all the directions exactly. Then we used Shauna’s t-shirt press to adhere our iron-on to the canvas. We let them cool a little bit and then removed the plastic from the canvas and got it ready to assemble our final product. To finish the frame, we laid the frame down upside-down, and put the canvas upside-down on top of it, so the blank side of the canvas was facing us. Then we took a staple gun to attach the canvas to the back of the frame, and viola, we had our finished product!

It was then time to grab our dry trays and finish those up. We started by drilling holes for the handles through the tray from the top down. Then we countersunk the holes from the bottom, about 3/4 of the way through one board so the screws would reach into the handles. We then used a phillips head screwdriver to attach the drawer pulls to make our trays complete!

Posted in diy

Cricut 101

In December I got myself a Cricut Maker and used it to make Christmas presents but hadn’t used it much since. With no Creative Palette classes at 2nd Chance Restoration yet for 2019, I was super excited when a Cricut 101 class was announced for late February.

The class was held in the same location as the Creative Palette classes, but had a guest teacher; Shauna Rogg. Shauna and Kelly had the classroom set up for us when we arrived. The benches had plenty of power cords for everyone who brought their Cricut with them and they even had both of theirs available for anyone, like me, who didn’t bring their Cricut. All that was required for class was to bring your computer or iPad to log into Design Space.

We made two projects in class that night – a cutting board and a dish towel. The first project we made was the cutting board with a vinyl decal on it. The cutting boards were 8″x8″ squares with four feet on the bottom; you can buy cutting boards like this at the dollar store, but really any size clear cutting board would do. We used border #M8109136 as the main element and then I used Soirée Lettering – Grace Script for my word to put in the middle of the border. When we started making the projects, it dawned on me that the cutting board would be a great birthday present for my Grandma, so I used her last name in the middle. After sizing the border to the right size, I ensured the word was centered in the middle and then welded it together. Before sending the project to the Cricut, we also attached and flattened it all. Once on the printing screen, we needed to be sure to mirror the image since we would be applying it to the cutting board from the bottom. The hardest part of the night was the weeding; since the border had so many aspects, making sure you were only weeding the excess was tricky, but we all did it. Once the weeding was done, we laid out some contact paper to use for the transfer and then laid it down on the table, sticky side up. The final step was to center the vinyl on the cutting board, which was not too hard using the feet of the cutting board to temporarily put it down and once it was centered, then flipping it over and pressing the vinyl onto the cutting board before removing the transfer paper. Our final products came out so well!

Just like I used a different font for mine, there was someone who used a different border for theirs and it came out fabulously!!!

Once we all had our cutting boards done, it was time for the dish towels which we did with iron ons. Shauna got flour sack dish towels from Amazon and prewashed and ironed them for the project. Step one was to find the image of the state of Connecticut with the word home written across it. Once we had that, we inserted the heart shape over the portion of the state where our town was located.

Then using the slicer tool, we removed the heart and left ourselves with a blank heart inside the state. Then most of us added “is where the heart is” text underneath. We were now ready to print the iron-on by mirroring it and then weeding out the excess material. Once the iron-on was ready, we positioned it on the hand towel and used Shauna’s industrial t-shirt press to apply it, but you just need an iron or a Cricut Easy Press to do it yourself. The final outcome was so cute!

While I had used vinyl before, I had never thought to mirror it and apply from behind the material, and this was my first go at making an iron-on. The class was great, Shauna even sent us home with a small handout with notes from her on tips and tricks to remember when using our Cricuts. This isn’t going to be the last Cricut 101 class 2nd Chance Restoration holds, so if you’re like me and need to use your machine a bit more, you should keep your eye out and make it to one of the classes!!

Posted in Dear Mom

Another day. Another blessing.

Today marks two years without you, Mom. Two years of missing you and accomplishments I don’t get to share with you. Every day I miss you, I am reminded that life is short and it’s a blessing to wake up each morning.

This year without you was hard; harder than last year. I expected the first year of firsts this and first that without you to be hard; I was mentally prepared for you to not be there and everyone else was on eggshells about it. But then when my 2nd Mother’s Day and Christmas (and everything else) without you came, I wasn’t prepared for how hard it would be. When I made everyone’s Christmas presents this year, I felt I was channeling a bit of you, and all I wanted to do is share it with you, but you weren’t here.

I know you’re watching over us and here with us everyday but it’s just not the same. I went back for my MBA and got it – keeping a straight 4.0 throughout it all too! When I got my final A, all I wanted to do was share the news with you, but you weren’t here. When I got promoted in June and then got another promotion in October, I knew you’d be proud of what I’m accomplishing but it still hurt because you weren’t here.

Every time I’m sad you’re not here, I remind myself that every day is another blessing. I remind myself that you always pushed us to be better. I will always push to be a better person tomorrow than I am today…I will always strive to make you proud.

Posted in review

Paint & Sip: Shamrock Pints with Painted by the Shore

When you live in New England and it reaches 70 in February, you know it’s going to snow in March! And when the forecast for the morning is for about a foot of snow, the best way to ignore winter is coming back is to get out and try another class!! This time I broke away from wooden projects to try a Paint & Sip class with Painted by the Shore. This was not your typical paint and sip class where you’re in an art studio painting a canvas, we were back in the Mason Jar to paint pint glasses 🎨 +🍻!

With St. Patrick’s Day on the horizon, we were painting shamrocks on pint glasses (which we will clearly use year round at our house). Kristina from Painted by the Shore had the tables set up when we arrived; each of us got a table, 2 pint glasses, 2 paint brushes (an 8 flat and 3 small pointy), Kristina’s business card and a card with directions on what to do with our glasses when we got home and a clover wine glass tag. As we were arriving and sitting down, we each got a plate with Martha Stewart acrylic glass paint (dark green, bright green and a shimmery gold). There were also water cups scattered around and we each got a raffle slip to win the glasses Kristina painted during the class.

Once we were all settled, it was time to begin. We started with the only easy step – putting four dots on the glass, each about 3″ up from the bottom at 12, 3, 6, and 9 around the glass. Then we put more dots between those, one in the middle above and one in the middle below, making diamonds with dots at the corners using the bright green. Then we took our flat brush, dipped it in both greens (one corner in each) and made a shamrock over each dot, using the dot as the middle – a shamrock isn’t that hard, it’s just 3 hearts and a stem, but we only did the leaves this time. After we had our shamrocks on each glass, we added gold dots around the shamrocks, but not where a stem would be. I decided to break out and add bright green dots too! Then we took the small brush and went over the shamrocks to touch them up and make them not transparent. We also added stems at this time. Then we had the option to add some gold on top of one or two, of all, shamrocks. Some people had one four leaf clover on the glass and did that one with the gold. The shamrocks could be large, or small like I did. Really, you didn’t even have to do shamrocks if you really didn’t want to…

We did have some homework after class, we had to bake the glasses to set the paint (but Kristina sent us home with the directions on our cards so we wouldn’t forget!) At the end of class, Court had the store open for us to shop, which I did (yes, I know I shopped three days ago too)! Kristina does more than just pint glasses, she’s got a paint and sip class at the Mason Jar often – something I’ll be sure to be back for, and I recommend that everyone else try too!

Posted in review

DIY String Art by Crafty Creations

2017 was a rough year. 2016 wasn’t all that better. I am determined to make 2018 a good year. My resolution for this year was to be better. Be a better me, Be better to the people in my life. Eat better. Do better at trying to be healthy. I want to spend 2018 getting ready for the rest of my life – get my MBA, get into a good habit with making healthy food, organize the house and learn new things. With that, specifically with the last part, I have signed up for a number of classes to try new things (remember when I tried calligraphy last year and now I use it all the time) – the first was the {Creative Pallet} class with 2nd Chance Restoration, and tonight was #2, a DIY String Art Class with Crafty Creations held at one of my favorite local stores, The Mason Jar.

I need to mention that I’m super glad that I follow @themasonjarmonroe on Instagram since they sent out their email for the class registration, and then they quickly posted on social media that the class was almost sold out, so I hit their website up to register (which was pretty easy). After registration was complete, we were asked to fill out a Google Doc to decide what we wanted to make based on the choices available – we picked a brown or grey board, a letter or the state of Connecticut, and then what word we wanted below the string art. I picked a brown board to make Connecticut with the name Connecticut underneath. Courtney (the owner of The Mason Jar) opened up the shop a little early tonight to allow us to shop, which of course I did! While we were shopping/browsing the store, Josey from Crafty Creations CT was setting up and boy did she set up quick. Josey and her sister set up each spot with a hammer, nails, scissors, tape, marker, pliers and tweezers. Once we all sat down, Josey gave each of us our board (which she already cut, sanded and stained for us), print outs of the shapes we would be making and a vinyl sticker for the word on the sign we were making.

Once everyone was there and we had our materials, we began by placing our letter or state on the board. I decided to put the state of CT above the name Connecticut on the board, so I positioned my cutout of Connecticut where I wanted it and I secured it in place with a couple pieces of scotch tape. Then starting by nailing our 1″ nails into the corners of the state, each nail went into the board about 1/4″, we needed to be sure that we didn’t go through the back of the board and that each nail was in far enough so that adding the string wouldn’t make them fall out (if the nail wasn’t straight, that was OK because we could use the pliers to straighten them out). Then we continued to add nails around the rest of the border, about 1/2″ apart from each other. After the border was done, we untaped the paper and then pulled the paper off the board – if there were any pieces of the paper stuck around the bottom of the nail, we used a tweezer to remove it. Then we added a heart inside the state, approximately where Monroe is located – we followed all the same steps, tape it down, add nails, then pull the paper off.

After we had all the nails on the board and the paper was removed, we picked a color string to use. Since Tom and I have the same favorite color, I picked green. Starting in a corner, we took the end of the string and tied a double knot around the nail, leaving a bit of excess hanging off. Then taking the string, we were able to go from nail to nail, looping the string around a nail and going across the board in no particular order. The only rules about the string were to make sure you stayed inside the shape (sounds obvious, but you needed to be sure that anything like that little notch at the top of the state stayed a notch) and with the heart, we didn’t go inside it since we would do that in a different color. Once we were content with the string coverage inside the shape, you made your way back to the nail you started with and then went from nail to nail making a border going around each nail in order, then once we got all the way around on the outside, we doubled back making the border outline on the inside of the same nails. When we again reached the first nail we started with, we tied the string to the end that was already hanging off from when we started. Then we put a small dot of super glue on the nail next to the one we started on and pulled the string there, holding it in place until it was secure. Once that was done, we were able to cut off the excess string (but be very careful you only are cutting excess string, not the string on your shape). Then we repeated the same within the heart – I did my heart in white to allow it to stand out against the green.

With the string art portion of the project complete, we applied the vinyl sticker to the bottom of the board. In my case I had picked the name of the state, some people did the zip code and people doing a letter did their name. But it could really be anything, or nothing. The final step was to nail a bracket on the back so that we would be able to hook it on a nail and hang it on the wall. And with that, we were done! Josey was a great teacher and was super helpful through out the whole class – and Court was a fantastic host who supported us all throughout the evening. I highly recommend that if you’re local, you try out a string art class with Josey or stop into The Mason Jar to say hi to Court, check out all her awesome merch and try a class there!

Posted in review

{Creative Palette} Rustic Home Decor by 2nd Chance Restoration

When I moved to Monroe, one of the first things I did was try to get involved in the Youth Commission – it was something I did in Ridgefield and I wanted to bring my experience to help my new community, and to meet some people in my new town with similar interests to mine. One of the first people I met here was Kelly Plunkett, the then Chair of the Youth Commission. In addition to being an active mom and on the Youth Commission, Kelly was involved in what seems like everything in town, plus had a full time job, and had a side business – 2nd Chance Restoration – where she redid furniture kitchen cabinets and furniture. Since then, Kelly left the Youth Commission and her full time job to focus full-time on her own business. Recently Kelly branched out and instead of just upgrading your kitchen or furniture, she started classes for the other DIY folks in the community. Thursday night was the 1st class for her {Creative Palette} class, with a rustic home decor theme.

As soon as sign-ups we’re up, I registered (super easy registration process, btw) and then on Thursday night I headed over to Kelly’s classroom and workshop for class. Kelly had what I thought was an overly ambitious plan for class – we made a scrabble letter monogram, a tea light candle holder and a rustic barn door type tray. While I wondered how we would accomplish all of this in 2 1/2 hours, Kelly had a plan. We started with the easiest project first, the Scrabble letter. Kelly had already cut all the wood to size before we came, so we had to sand the 6 sides and break the edges to start. Then using carbon paper, we traced our letter (I did G for my last name) and the corresponding number (how many Scrabble points the letter is worth) onto the wood. Using a Sharpie oil based paint marker, we colored in our letter and number and then started in on our tea light candle holder, sanding the sides, breaking the edges and adding a small nail/tack to the top four corners. Kelly also used a paddle bit to drill in a hole in the center of whichever side we deemed the top to hold a tea light.

Once everyone was done, or at least almost done, with their first two projects, we began on project three! Kelly had two 14″ board and four 21″ boards for each of us – that meant there was a lot of sanding!! We all sanded our boards and then assembled our tray upside down, using a power drill to screw in screws into the end of each 21″ board to attach it to the 14″ board that ran perpendicular to it. Once our boards were attached, we had a tray! But before we could move onto staining anything, we had to drill holes for our drawer pulls which would serve as the tray’s handles. With all the sanding and drilling complete, we moved into the other room to stain our pieces. I went with a medium brown stain for the scrabble letter and candle holder and a grey stain for the tray. Staining the letter and tea light brought those two projects to completion (just needed to put the candle in the candle holder). The tray needed drawer pulls added to each end and furniture pads added to the bottom corners of the tray and viola, our trays were complete!

Kelly’s plan for the {Creative Palette} classes is to have different projects each month, learning new mediums and tools. It is something I plan to go to again and would definitely recommend to anyone in the area!

Posted in Dear Mom

Every day. Every minute.

1 year.
12 months.
52 weeks.
365 days.

It’s been 1 year, Mom.
1 year to reflect and remember the good times.
1 year with a flood of memories and emotions coming and going.
1 year of holidays without you.
1 birthday without a call from you.
1 less Christmas card to mail.
1 school year begun without making a seating plan for your classes.
1 year of wishing I just had 1 more day with you.

It’s been 12 months, Mom.
12 months of measuring time since you were here.
12 months of adventures.
12 months of trying to live my life to the fullest.
12 months of feeling guilty for having fun without you.

It’s been 52 weeks, Mom.
52 weekends that I look out the window hoping to see a cardinal to know you’re nearby.
52 Sunday masses saying a prayer that you’ve been reunited with Grandpa in Heaven.
52 weeks that I count my blessings and remember all that I still have.

It’s been 365 days, Mom.
365 days that I’ve wanted to call or text you.
365 days that I’m reminded of the little ways you always helped me.
365 sunrises and sunsets you didn’t see.
365 days when I’m hit with tears from nowhere.
365 days that I hope I would be making you proud.

1 year.
12 months.
52 weeks.
365 days.
Every day. Every minute missing you still.

Posted in life

2017…another year in the books

2017 has reminded me just how grateful I should be, how thankful I am for the amazing people in my life and how blessed I am to live this life I have!

I’m not going to lie, 2017 started out as a rough year. 40 days in, my life changed forever. Dealing with my mom’s passing was rough, and I really thought it was going to define the year. While I am sure I will always remember that as the most influential part of my 2017, I have been blessed with a multitude of other experiences to make this year enjoyable in the days since. Here are my top 17 highlights from 2017:

  1. Monroe got a new yoga studio – Blue Lotus Yoga, opened by a dear friend of mine who has entrusted me with help her with her social media and website, and all the while it has only made Elaina and me better friends.
  2. My friend Mary came to visit from down south just to keep me company and be with me for a tough weekend. While it was a short visit, it is one I will always remember as she but her own life on hold for the weekend to be there for me at the drop of a hat.
  3. I got my 3rd tattoo – it’s my mom’s handwriting and says “Love, Mom”, taken off the Christmas card she wrote me last year.
  4. Tom and I went to see Jake Owen in concert! (I have to get at least one country concert in each year.)
  5. Once I finally had a chance to leave home for a bit, I visited Jenna and saw Oregon and Washington for my first time! We went beer tasting around Portland (along with whiskey and wine tasting) and even had a flight across the gorge in Washington! I was also able to see Mulnomah Falls and the Columbia River Gorge before they were hit with a devastating wild fire. Also, while in Portland, Jenna took me to my very first professional soccer game – and I will admit that I loved it!
  6. I spent Mother’s Day weekend in DC with Emily – wine tasting around Virginia and taking in another Nationals game.
  7. I completed my 2nd Warrior Dash with some awesome ladies from my softball team.
  8. I got a dirt bike!!!
  9. Spent Labor Day up on Cape Cod with Tom, Jenna and her family to wish her farewell before her next chapter of life and adventures in Cambodia! And since it was me and Jenna, rum, gin and wine tasting were all on the menu! Along with a 20+ mile bike ride on the rail trail. And we even caught a sight of seals off the coast in Provincetown.
  10. Finally took in a Bridgeport Bluefish game at Harbor Yard before they left town for good.
  11. And even though Hurricane Irma rained out the Tampa 2017 installment of #ktomandlamargotimlbtour, we booked a last minute trip to Cleveland where we saw the Indians win 21 straight games (and then break their win streak two days later). Plus we saw the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and cruised on the Great Lake to see a different side of Cleveland.
  12. I finally made it to Canada thanks to a work trip to Montreal. And though I didn’t have time for sightseeing, there was time to pick up pure Canadian maple syrup to bring home! Work also sent me to Atlanta, so I finally stepped foot outside the airport. And was able to experience some southern BBQ while we dined. My final work trip sent me to Torino, Italy for a week. And included a 7 hour layover in Frankfurt, which gave me ample time to go walk around the city instead of just hanging out in the airport.
  13. After wanting to learn for a long time, I dove in and took a calligraphy class at Joyful Noise Paper and have been enjoying practicing my new hobby ever since.
  14. I spent November writing my 30 Days of Thanks and looking back on all of the blessings I have in my life.
  15. I was elected chair of Monroe Youth Commission.
  16. I survived 3 straight days of Christmas baking – making 100 raspberry thumprints + 121 chocolate chip cookies + 3 Irish soda breads + 81 meringues + 45 chocolate covered pretzels…all for the weekend before Christmas. And that doesn’t include anything I made for Christmas itself, which we hosted for the 1st time this year.
  17. The Gotimer family grew again as Lizzie and Brian got married!
Posted in 30 Days of Thanks

Day 30 – Thankful for Everything

Today I am thankful for all that I have. I am thankful for all the opportunities I have been afforded in my life. I am thankful for all the opportunities I know will come ahead. And I am very thankful for taking on this #30daysofthanks challenge – it opened my eyes to all the blessings I really do have. If you haven’t seen my month’s worth of posts, here is what I have been thankful for:

Day 1 – Tom
Day 2 – Home
Day 3 – Serenity Prayer
Day 4 – #charlieandcharcoal
Day 5 – PDX & ATL
Day 6 – #ktomandlamargotimlbtour
Day 7 – Democracy
Day 8 – Coffee
Day 9 – Communicating Worldwide
Day 10 – Plentiful Harvest
Day 11 – Backyard
Day 12 – Family
Day 13 – Friends
Day 14 – Time Off
Day 15 – Being a Millennial
Day 16 – MYC
Day 17 – Calligraphy
Day 18 – Bible Study
Day 19 – Wanderlust
Day 20 – Yoga
Day 21 – 💚Mom💚
Day 22 – Traditions
Day 23 – Christmas Time
Day 24 – Grandma’s Tree
Day 25 – Hosting the Holidays
Day 26 – Education
Day 27 – My Job
Day 28 – Frankfurt
Day 29 – Torino