Mandy Gendek & FamilyMy family and I live in a little brick house just outside the quaint historic city of Bordentown, New Jersey.  My husband and I met while working together as environmental professionals.  We became best friends.  Side by side, we raise our two children (boy 7, girl 1).   Our professional lives and children keep us in perpetual motion, but we love being parents and try very hard to maintain a healthy  balance of work & play.  Together, the four of us make One Cozy Nest!  Here we are, celebrating our daughter’s 1st birthday together.

Jeff & Amanda Gendek Wedding

Deirdre Ryan Photography www.dryanphoto.com

Our home is surrounded by enormous oak and locust trees and we spend lots of time underneath them, enjoying the fresh air and open space.  On our wedding day in 2014, we invited our guests to a small reception at our home.  It was a very special day for our whole family and one that we’ll never forget.

Our son plays baseball and just earned his green belt in karate.  He’s entering the black belt club and will be training a lot more vigorously.  Something about a 7-year-old with nunchucks just doesn’t seem right!  Our daughter enjoys playing doctor with all of her stuffed animals and has developed a love for singing kareoke to Frozen songs.  She’s a little clown…a very bossy one.  Little girl knows what she wants and wants it NOW.  I wonder who she takes after?  My husband enjoys collecting antique T-206 baseball cards and art, loves the Red Sox, following politics, and reading.

We sometimes feel like two ships passing in the night, but when we do finally get to relax, we enjoy cooking dinner together and catching up on TV shows.  Best of all though, we love going junking together. He’ll never admit it to his friends, but he’s got the junking bug BAD! He has a good eye for vintage finds and helps me run our vintage shop on Etsy.  Separately though, he loves following sports and politics.  I’ll have none of that.  He also enjoys what I call “old man” entertainment.  Right now, for example, he’s watching an episode of Perry Mason in the next room.  I always say he’s an old man trapped in a young man’s body.  After the kids are tucked in, if I’m not working on a project, I love to lay in bed and surf social media on my iPad or catch up on episodes of GIRLS or Walking Dead.


Mandy Gendek ~ One Cozy NestI grew up in a NJ town located across the Delaware River from Philadelphia, PA. Yup, I’m a Jersey Girl, born and raised.  Nope, I don’t pronounce it “Joy-zee” and I don’t look, act, or smell like ANY of the girls on the Jersey Shore show.  I’m considered a Southern Jersey girl I guess, but in fact, I live in the middle of the state.  I don’t identify readily to North, Central, or South Jerseyeans…and anyone from here will argue that there is a huge difference between the three.  I’m sure there’s a Facebook quiz out there somewhere that will help me out on that one, but I will digress!

As a young girl, living along the Rancocas Creek, I always had a passion for nature and the environment. I dreamed of becoming a marine biologist and working for the US EPA saving whales and dolphins.  While I didn’t save any whales, I did work for the US EPA as a summer intern the year before I graduated college.  I subsequently earned a Masters Degree in Environmental Policy and have been working in the environmental field ever since.  My love for nature, particularly birds and flowers, can be seen everywhere in my home.  I really do 041208care for the environment, but I do have running water and live very much ON the grid.  Oh, and I definitely shave my legs and armpits.  I did, however, cloth diaper both of my kids.  How’s that for tree-huggin’ hippie?  You’ve got to be really dedicated to wash your own diapers.  Did you know that an average baby goes through 2,700 diapers the first year?  O.M.G.

My other love is vintage.  However, this love wasn’t ingrained in me from the beginning.  When I was little, my mother and sister enjoyed perusing antique shops and would spend hours scouring the aisles of the local flea market.

il_fullxfull.253545901 I, however, loathed it. I just didn’t get it! “Why would anyone want any of this old junk?”.  I’d whine and complain, asking over and over if they were done yet. Well, I’m all grown up and something has definitely clicked. Now, I love anything with a history. I love the smell of musty old books and well-used linens. I love advertising, wooden toys and boardgames from decades past. I love chippy paint and rusty metal. I love coming home from the flea market, fingers black, flip flops dusty, after sifting through boxes of junk and walking down aisle after aisle in the sun.  I suppose it was in my blood all along!


P10111191Creativity runs in my family.  My grandmother, who just turned 99 on leap day, used to spend a lot of time crocheting and spent countless hours on her counted cross stitch and needlepoint projects.  At 99 years old, her vision is not what it used to be, but she kept trying for a while, using her fingers to feel the yarn as she crocheted.  She misses it, of course.  We had one of her pieces hanging in our kitchen growing up, reminding us to “Love One Another”.  My siblings and I would fight like cats and dogs and she’d always say that to us. I’m not so sure that one sunk inThis is me, being tied up by my siblings when I was about 2 years old. completely!  That picture over there is me when I was about 1 and 1/2…being tied up by my brother and sister.  Love one another…HA!

My mother was a crafter too and when I was a kid, she was a regular on the local craft show circuit, making Victorian-style ornaments and baskets. I loved helping her at the shows. Getting up while it was still dark was a treat and it was always fun getting to shop at the other vendor’s booths. My mom used to pay me 10 cents a strand for stringing little pearl beads onto small sections of wire to put on her crafts.

Tracy Nuskey-Dodson Finally, my sister a.k.a. my BFF, is an artist.  Her name is Tracy Nuskey-Dodson and she co-manages Church Street Art & Craft, a gallery in historic Mount Holly, New Jersey.  She  sells her artwork online as well as at the gallery.  Connect with her on Facebook!


I love to sew.  My first learning experience was in high school where we made those puffy 80s-style alphabet pillows.  However, after witnessing my best friend Stephanie sew right through her finger, I think I shyed away from the sewing maching a wee bit.  Years later, my mom got me back into it and I broke out our vintage Singer and made aIMG_0021 set of curtains for my bedroom.  Back inthe early 2000s, I started a business making handbags out of vintage and recycled fabrics, often using vintage handles when I could find them.  I used everything I could get my hands on; sheets, housecoats, drapes, linen dish towels, and bedspreads.  I went by the name Mandy B. Bags and had an e-commerce website that allowed my customers to design thier own bags with their favorite inner and outer fabric, cellphone pockets, zippers, magnetic snaps,mandy b. bags and even handle length.  I held a few trunk shows at local retail shops and friends’ homes, and a couple of stores actually carried some of my bags.  After I had my son, though, there wasn’t much time for handbag-making and so I sold the remainder of my inventory on Etsy.  Right around that time, craft stores started to mass produce cheaper versions of the vintage handbag handles I was using and I became less interested in them once everyone started making them.

I kept my handbag supplies, but I turned my sewing skills towards making baby-related things like baby slings, taggie balls, flannel burp cloths, cloth wipes, and baby blankets.  burp_clothsYou can find lots of home decor sewing projects in my home now.  Most recently, I made some pillows, a custom window bench seat, and window valances for our office/playroom and our kitchen. IMG_3642

I love to craft just about anything.  I’ve tried everything from scrap-booking to painting.  Last Summer I bought a beautiful piece of mahogany wood and made a tree swing for my kids and hung it from a huge pin oak tree near our gardens.  My son, the little acrobat, simply MUST take off his shirt to show off his muscles while doing crazy flips and tricks on that thing.  “That’s what they do at the circus, Mommy!” He does just about everything BUT sit and swing on it.

My creative sister hosts craft nights in her home as well as painting parties at the art gallery.  I try to attend them all!  It’s like therapy for me.  I don’t have to think of anything else except whatever it is I’m creating at that very moment.  I enjoy Friendship Cuff Bracelets by One Cozy Nestparticipating, when I can, as a room mom at my son’s school and usually volunteer to do the craft project for the class parties I attend.  I love coming up with fun ideas for them to use their own creativity while still following IMG_2791step-by-step instructions.  These rockin’ friendship cuff bracelets made out of paper towel rolls were a huge hit last year.  The kids went crazy with creativity and it was so fun to watch.

A recent hobby of mine has become painting furniture that was otherwise destined for the landfill.  I have been known to pick through the neighbors trash, breathing new life into pieces that were tossed aside.  Here are a few of my transformations:




Our home was built in the 1950s and has a lot of charm. I am not ashamed to admit that I am a hardcore One Cozy Nest ~ Deranged Tool Weildinghomebody. So, I spend a lot of my spare time, like a good mama bird, making our little nest just so, constantly tweeking things here and there.  My electric drill is my favorite tool but lately, I’ve been learning how to use several other power tools like this jig saw that I got at a yard sale for a whopping $3!  Here, I’m modeling my awesome over-the-glasses safety goggles.  You can never be too safe!  Gotta protect my giant crazy eyes! I’m also wearing the weird and fun hat that I sport while working in my cold basement.  It’s so warm…like a sweatshirt for my head.

Last Mother’s Day, my husband bought me a nail gun and I also just purchased a paint sprayer so I can easily spray my kitchen chairs and other larger pieces of fMr. Gendekurniture. This is my father-in-law.  He’s been roped into helping me with some of my home-improvement projects and I’m always calling him up asking him if I can borrow his tools or if he has some glue or other things like that.  Thank goodness my in-laws only live 5 houses away!  It has been so much help having them around, especially with them basically helping us raise our two kids.  Anyway, my own dad passed away in 2000, so it means so much to be able to enjoy these fix-it projects with him and learn from him.  My dad would definitely be proud of the fact that I take after him as well as my crafty mom.  Our latest endeavor is transforming my entryway closet into a mudroom. With every completed project, our house just gets more and more cozy and feels like a true home. Something I am very proud of.


I’ve built my brand, One Cozy Nest, out of love ~  my love for nature, for vintage, for creating, for family, and for home.  I started this blog to share my life experiences, DIY home improvements, and crafting projects. I want to make people laugh.  I want to teach and inspire them. I want to connect with them and learn new things as well.  I want to encourage others, especially women, to embrace their so-called imperfections and have a sense of humor about life.  I want to be a positive force, sharing my life honestly and openly in the hopes of making the world (and my little corner of it) a more happy place!  Thank you for reading my About Page.  Let’s connect and build a friendship!

As Always, Stay Cozy!