{Mommy, This is Crazy}

One night, the family and I were on our way to a good friend’s house for dinner. It happened to be….the eve of trash day. We rounded a corner and my headlights caught the outline of what appeared to be a dresser. IMG_8641My head spun to the right and I pointed it out to my husband at the same time his head was spinning to the left pointing something else out to ME. I promptly turned the car around, nearly Nascar-style, surprising both kids in the back seat. I pulled up to the first pile of trash and stepped out of the car. My 7-year-old nervously called out the window, “Mommy, what are you doing?! I don’t think they want you to do that!” To which I responded, “It’s okay, bud, it’s called trash picking. They don’t want it!” Clearly this was his first time and he probably felt like we were stealing. I quickly surveyed a vanity and noticed it was missing 2 out of 3 drawers. It had nice lines though, and wasn’t completely wrecked, so I popped the trunk and shoved it in, thinking that I could build shelves inside the nooks where the drawers once were. My husband told me to also nab a IMG_9103pretty shabby looking empty frame. Good eye, hubs. Since I had the stroller in the back, the trunk wouldn’t close all the way, which added to my son’s anxiety over the whole situation. He says, “Mommy this is crazy!” I said, “This isn’t crazy, it’s FREE!”

The next pile we pulled up to had the lovely dresser that caught my eye. It wasn’t exactly my personal taste, but it looked like it was in great shape…and it was. Not a knick or scratch, and it was pretty clean to boot. It was a natural-colored pencil rattan piece with 6 drawers and a matching mirror. I pulled out all of the drawers to make sure they were all on track. I’m not experienced with furniture repair yet, so right now I need my pieces to be in pretty decent working order from the start. I’m sure I’ll learn some new tricks along the way though.

Obviously, with the trunk of my 4-door Honda already flapping open, we couldn’t load anything of that size even if we wanted to. But the friend whose house we were headed to owns a pickup truck. I’ll just ask him! Unfortunately, he flat out said no when I asked. Apparently he shares the same opinion of “crazy” with my son. What good is a friend with a truck if he won’t let you use it to pick through his neighbor’s trash? The nerve. So, I gave up on the dresser idea and was content with the vanity and frame. IMG_8590However on the drive home, we passed it again, looking all lonely on the curb. I called my father-in-law as soon as we got home and asked, “Are you busy right now? Wanna go for a drive?” His response sums up exactly why I love him so much. “Sure, where to?” 20 minutes later, we had that baby and its matching mirror in the back of his truck and were headed home to put it in my garage.

Over the next few weeks, walking past it over and over again, it started growing on me. Sure, it wasn’t immediately my personal taste, but then again, I don’t think I have a narrowed-down style. I describe it as vintage eclectic. I fill my home with things that make me happy and colors that I love so naturally, it’s not going to look like I ordered it straight out of a catalog.

So while I decided what color to paint it, I brought it into the house and put it in its spot to see how it felt. I like it even more now. I think I’m going to go with a nice bright yellow to compliment some of my existing family room accessories and to tie the room together with the adjacent office/playroom.IMG_4249

It’s the perfect height to rest a cup of coffee while lounging on the recliner. It’s also a nice home to my vintage aqua blue radio.  I’ll decorate it more thoughtfully with my eclectic little happy things once it’s all complete.  I’ll have to decide whether to paint the existing mirror to match or to swap it out for the one I picked out of the trash. However, putting the two together might look too matchy-matchy for my liking. For now, it looks great where it is. I have big plans for those drawers too. IMG_8601With little kiddos in the house and small closets, drawers are this mom’s best friend. One of them will definitely be housing my husband’s growing collection of Yankee Candles…his guilty pleasure. You’d never think a 6’3” man who drives a snow plow in the Winter would have such a soft side. He’s my big softy.

Stay tuned for the reveal of the dresser! That will get it’s own step-by-step post filled with lots of photos. By subscribing to my blog and connecting with me on FacebookPinterest, and Twitter, you won’t miss a thing!

What “crazy” things have you done in the name of creativity? What have you done that made your kids have mini panic attacks or cover their faces in shame? Visions of two legs sticking up out of a dumpster come to mind…leave a comment below, I’d love to hear about your experiences!

As Always, Stay Cozy!



{Ten Embarrassing Things About Me}

Today’s post is a list of things about me that, for some reason, I’m compelled to let my readers know.  I think it’s only fair, if we’re going to build a relationship together, that I’m open and honest with all of you. So, I’m just gonna throw them right out there into cyber-world…full well knowing that once they’re out there, they might haunt me later in life when I run for President.

Goofy Mandy Gendek

  1. This picture.  No words necessary.
  2. Last night, I cut my 1 year old daughter’s bangs and made her look like Jim Carey in the movie Dumb and Dumber. She has a little gap in her front teeth too, so all the more horrifying.
  3. I still sleep with the Pound Puppy that I got for Christmas…30 years ago. Can you say dust mites?
  4. I cannot be around an open can of Coke without having a sip. I don’t think my husband has had a full can to himself since he met me. This goes for his fountain sodas too. I don’t discriminate.
  5. I just realized that I misspelled the word “embarrassing” in the title of this post. Thank you, spell-check!
  6. I suck at math. I really, really do. I break out in cold sweats whenever I’m expected to do simple math in my head.
  7. I once left my back screen door open a little bit for my dogs while making a call to Human Resources about my maternity leave…only to discover that my infant son had escaped and was eating pine cones and twigs while sitting on the top step of the deck stairs. Someone call DYFS.
  8. I sent a not-so-nice email to someone by accident a long time ago. It should have gone to my friend, but it went directly to the person I was talking about. Damn reply all
    button….why are you so conveniently placed???
  9. I sometimes extend my bathroom breaks at home just to get a few extra minutes of peace and quiet. Most of the time though, they find me. If I’m not within their sight for more than 2 minutes they start wondering where I’ve disappeared to. “Mommy? Mommyyyyyy? Mommy, where are youuuuuu?”
  10. I cut my OWN bangs in college and made myself look like Jim Carey in the movie Dumb and Dumber. When will I learn? See No. 2 of this list.

There you have it, friends. Ten embarrassing things (I just spelled it wrong, AGAIN!) about me. This list makes me seem really “out there”, but the truth is I’m an intelligent woman who makes mistakes and has a few flaws.  This woman also has a sense of humor.

So, what embarrassing things about yourself have you shot into cyber-space? Please tell me I’m not the only new mom who let their baby escape through the open screen door! My life’s lessons from this list can be summed up as follows: spell-check is your friend, but “reply all” is not; always keep your calculator app handy; keep your back doors closed; and for the love of all things good…. step away from the scissors. Step. Away.

As Always, Stay Cozy,



{Message In A Bottle ~ Or a Book}

reunion the state or condition of having been brought together again.”

  Reunion is a powerful word.  It means that two things…or people…were once together.  Something happened and they became separated   for what could be moments or even decades.  So many little things can happen in between the togetherness…and that is what this story is all about.  It’s a “Message In A Bottle” kind of story.  One where the odds are simply unbelievable.  

If you don’t know me, I’m a picker.  A junker.  A couple months back my boyfriend and I were rummaging around piles of “junk” at a very packed antiques auctionhouse in Hightstown, NJ. We tossed our finds into a cardboard box and paid the owner for the lot.

One of the items in our box was something that actually caught my boyfriend’s eye on our way out.  It was a light pink baby photo album from 1950. The wording on the front cover read, “Our Baby” in gold cursive. It was sitting alone in an area of the crowded warehouse that was filled with just furniture. How it got there I don’t know, but it was just sitting on a table right near the aisle…within eye sight and arms reach. Just waiting for someone to pick it up.   

The inside cover contained the baby’s name, date of birth, weight, and doctor’s name, all hand-written by the mother. The pages of the album were filled with heart-warming black and white photographs carefully affixed by tiny pink photo corners.  Below most of the photos were hand-written quotes by the mother.  As we flipped through the pages we could see how loving of a mother this lucky little baby girl had. Her father was the photographer in many of the shots and the notes even told the story of the father hand-making the wooden rocking chair that the mother was sitting in.  The first thing I did was Google the name of the baby.  I just thought that maybe….maybe I could find out who this baby was.  Was she still alive?  Was she from New Jersey?  How did the book end up there?  Well, I got nowhere really fast and resorted to listing it in my online shop.  

As I described it, I wondered how such a precious piece of someone’s history ends up in a dusty old warehouse, neglected and abandoned. I felt badly but figured at least a collector could enjoy the wonderful photographs or a creative artist could use them in an interesting art piece. Shortly thereafter, Etsy member “mydoodles54” (Kathryn) inquired about it, asking if there were any names in the album. She said that she might be interested in buying it for her hobby. She runs a website called Goodwill Genealogists (http://goodwillgenealogists.wordpress.com/)
and her hobby is reuniting owners with lost photo albums.  When I heard that, I immediately gave her the baby’s information (which I hadn’t provided in the item description on my shop) and Kathryn went to work doing some research of her own and posting about the album on her website and Ancestry.com.  I figured if she couldn’t find the owner, no one could! 

The very next day, someone from clear across the country (Los Angeles, California) purchased the album from my shop. My heart sank, knowing that someone bought it before I could find the rightful owner.  When I checked the invoice, there was a note from the buyer:
“I am the baby in this album. Thank you, Bobbie.”
Chills ran up and down my entire body and I immediately picked up the phone and told my boyfriend and my sister the incredible news. I sent Bobbie, now 60, a message asking her some questions about how she found the album and to Kathryn, telling her that her online research must have worked!  It turns out that Bobbie has been looking for this album for 20+ years. She knew, just from the photos, that it was her. I provided no names or locations in my description.
Without even knowing the personal information in the album, she told me everything….the first, middle, and last name of the baby and she even told me that there is a musical wind up part to the album. If you wound up a little screw, the Rock-a-bye Baby tune plays when you open the album.  She was right!  I said to my boyfriend, “DO YOU HEAR IT!? IT PLAYS MUSIC JUST LIKE SHE SAID!”  Bobbie said to me over email that she’d like to tell me the rest of the story because when I hear it, I’ll be even more amazed.  So, we exchanged phone numbers and she’s going to call me when she gets it. 

The most interesting thing about this whole story is that Bobbie never even saw Kathryn’s posts about the album on Goodwill Genealogists or Ancestry.com. It’s like she was drawn to my shop. Destiny? I definitely think so.  Even though Bobbie never saw Kathryn’s messages or knew I was looking for her too, the work we did to try to find the owner stirred something up in the universe and reunited Bobbie with her long lost treasure.


So, I spoke to Bobbie on the phone just a few short days after I shipped the album out.  She was lovely and had a voice that made me feel like I had known her forever.  It turns out that Bobbie found out about the album in a roundabout way from an estranged sister.  The estranged sister (who may have seen Kathryn’s message on Ancestry.com) emailed Bobbie’s brother who then forwarded the link to my shop to Bobbie.  When she saw that it was, in fact her, she bought it right up.  By the way, I refunded her money…there’s no way I could profit from something like this!   So…Kathryn DID help reunite Bobbie with her album.  Thanks Kathryn!  So, even though the story ended up being a little less magical than I originally thought, it still proves that one or two individuals can make such powerful connections and change someone’s life in a positive way. 

{My Capable Hands}

I remember reading a quote by actress Meg Ryan a very long time ago.  When asked by an interviewer what she would and wouldn’t change about her appearance she said she’d like longer legs.  Then she said,

“…but the one thing I wouldn’t change is my hands.  I think I’ve got very capable looking hands.” 

It struck a chord in me and I have always remembered it.  Sometimes when I’ve had a tough day and feel like I’m not doing a good job, I look down at them and say to myself, “I’ve got capable hands.”  And they are.

One of the first things they touch in the morning are my son’s warm sleepy cheeks.  I pull his face close and give him a kiss.  Then they touch his clothes, his vitamin, breakfast, hair, lunchbox.  Then my own clothes, hair, breakfast.  Bills, credit card statements, junk mail, letter from my Grandmother, keyboard, documents, telephone, packages.  They hold doors for strangers.  They scrub the toilet.  They cook dinner.  They kill an army of ants marching across the kitchen floor towards the sink.  They pick dust bunnies out from under the couch along with a few dried up raisins.  They write checks for charity and hang art projects up on the fridge.  They give high fives, clean spilled sticky juice.  They bathe, they turn the page back so he can look at the big volcano for the 10th time, they tuck in, they cover up.  They turn out the light and close the door.  My hands are very capable hands.
I hope you find inspiration from these hands…
{Vintagous} Ivory Kid Gloves
{Stone School Vintage} Industrial Latex Glove Mold
{One Cozy Nest} Angel Statue Wearing Blue Gown
{The Lazy Peacock} Brass Hand Paper Holder

{Cloth Diaper Laundering}


I wrote the first version of these instructions for my friend Genevieve and have since revised it, thinking I might post it online to the masses. Just to warn you, it’s a bit wordy b/c that’s just a habit of mine. But, trust me, when you break it down, it’s really simple. If you’re reading this, the hard part about cloth diapering is over. I found that the research, purchasing, and stripping of my new diapers was the most difficult part. Washing (and using) your diapers is the easy stuff. So here we go…

1. After changing baby, remove any inserts/doublers from the diaper. Then shake off or use the mini sprayer to remove solids, if any, from the diaper. It’s not necessary to get them 100% clean with the sprayer. Let your machine do most of the work. This is just to get the chunky stuff off. You want to remove the inserts/doublers before using the sprayer b/c you don’t want a really sopping wet diaper to have to transfer from the toilet area to the diaper pail. I happen to keep my diaper pail in the bathroom so whenever I’m doing the spraying, I have the diaper pail right next to the toilet to help avoid dripping.

2. Place diaper and insert/doubler into your diaper pail lined with a wet bag. Be sure to fasten any Velcro strips together before doing so because during washing and drying, they’ll all stick together and make for a very long chain of diapers…not fun! Some diapers have special Velcro tabs just for this purpose. Diaper makers call these “laundry tabs”.

3. When all your diapers are dirty, place the mouth of wet bag into the washer, and then push all the dirty diapers into the washer while at the same time turning your wet bag inside out. This way, you don’t have to actually touch any of the dirty diapers and your wet bag will get nice and clean since the dirty side will now be facing out!

4. Pre-wash the diapers on cold/cold (to avoid setting any stains) with NO detergent. If your washer doesn’t have a pre-wash cycle, a short cycle would be fine. This step removes any solids you missed when using the sprayer and loosens everything up for the next steps.

5. Run a normal cycle or heavy cycle set to warm wash/cold rinse, using 1 scoop of Charlie’s Soap and one scoop of Oxy Clean (optional). I also select extra rinse on my machine because it’s important to rinse away any and all detergent residues*.

*Residue is your enemy when it comes to cloth diapers…it makes them less absorbent. This is why I use only Charlie’s Soap. It’s a white powder and you only need one (1) tablespoon to wash an entire load. No perfumes, no harsh chemicals, no harm to the environment. I even use it to wash all of my family’s clothes. I highly recommend this soap for newborn’s clothes instead of the Dreft that is commonly used.

6. Dry the diapers on medium or high only for as long as they need…test it out by setting dryer for 20 minutes, checking, then 30, checking, then 40 to get just the right amount of time. This will lengthen the life of your diapers in the long run. The diapers I use are designed to last from birth to potty training for multiple children. So you can imagine just how many times you run them through this routine!


If diapers/liners seem to smell of ammonia even after washing/drying, a cup or so of white vinegar during the rinse cycle will do the trick. Sometimes I even put it in right with the Charlie’s Soap at the beginning of the wash cycle and it seems to work great.

Sunning cloth diapers and their liners on a clothes line or sunny deck is great for removing tough stains and also whitens them unbelievably! There’s nothing cuter than a row of colorful cloth diapers on my clothes line on a breezy day. That’s why I do it every chance I get on the weekends. This saves energy too b/c you’re not running your dryer.

Every now and then, you might want to “strip” your diapers if you find that they are holding onto smells/stains or if they seem to be leaking. Just wash AND dry them completely about 3 times in a row to strip away any residues that may have built up over time.

My experience shows that the use of some diaper creams such as Desitin causes the diapers to smell and hold onto stains. I use Bordeaux’s Butt Paste as well as A&D Ointment and haven’t had that problem. If you have this problem, wash the diapers as you normally would, then use a scrub brush and Charlie’s Soap to scrub out the stain, then wash them again normally. A drop or two of dish detergent might also help break up the oils in the diaper cream and help lift it out of the fibers.

When on the go, keep a zippered wet bag in your diaper bag. I just ball up the dirty diaper (including the dirty wipes), and then just deal with the mess when I get home. When you’ve got a baby on the changing table, you don’t want to be leaving it unattended to dump the poop. The zippered wet bag keeps the smells at bay, so don’t worry about it too much. My daycare provider does this for us and it is really no problem at all to just do all the spraying at one time at the end of the evening. It only takes me about 2 minutes.