A Visit From Titan


Remember this pitiful, malnourished little guy who, with near-frostbitten feet, somehow managed to survive Winter Storm Titan and it’s -13 degree temperatures?

The day after this picture was taken, he met me for the first time at the vet’s office. He weighed 27.5 pounds and we weren’t sure for the first week or so if he would even survive his ordeal.

Well, he and his parents came to visit us recently. We hadn’t seen Titan since Peggy took him home in late April.

If this is the first time you’re reading about Titan or you want to refresh your memory, you can learn all the deets on his rescue hereย and on his adoption here. ย 


He looks magnificent.

The picture below is the first day I brought him home, the first time he’d been inside a home, and he’s greeting Ekko for the first time. (In case you’re wondering, you’re looking at Ekko’s behind on a short hair day.)

Meeting Ekko

He was about 5 months old then, and so near starvation that we were all concerned that if he survived, his growth may be stunted.

This is Titan and Ekko now. ๐Ÿ™‚

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He weighs a strapping 67 pounds, and he’s not only bigger, he’s also filled out. He is still a couple of pounds underweight for his age, and he’s also probably still growing.

The transformation is amazing!

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Here they are side by side. Titan looks very handsome in his Chicago Police Department-issue collar!

And who did he want to play with the whole time he was here? The guy with the bad ‘wheel’, of course!

Poor Orbit. We went through a lot of sedatives while Titan was here.

Too bad Peggy’s sister and her family weren’t ready for a dog yet. Titan and Orbit could have been cousins!

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Isn’t he handsome?

It was kind of challenging to get pictures of him while he was here. I had to use my phone, and it has a slower shutter speed. Dogs move faster than you think, even when they aren’t moving fast.

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Cameras seem broken if the batteries are completely dead. I’m just saying. I’m not saying that was what was wrong with my camera, mind you. I’m just saying that right after John and Peggy went home, my camera started working again.

Go figure.

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“Mother, what are you doing?” Ekko asks.ย 

Back in Chicago, John and Peggy also took him to a canine dental specialist. Somehow, this little guy managed to survive a very high fever, such as distemper. It killed the enamel production on his teeth, leaving them only partially protected.

With state-of-the-art dental procedures that simply aren’t available here, they were able to grind down his critical teeth and apply a bonding agent. At his young age, he had to have three removed. This bonding agent will have to be re-applied periodically, and will hopefully be able to save his most critical teeth.

His teeth look terrific!

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We even celebrated his birthday while he was here. Although after all that dental work, he didn’t get any cake. (We ate his piece.) ๐Ÿ˜‰

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It was fun watching him as he remembered each of us. He recognized my voice, and as he checked out our house to make sure everything was still in the same place. When Jimmy came home, he got excited: he remembered him too!

Sophia pulled in, and he got very excited. He remembered her too! And her car!

And he remembered Joe! It was fun watching him get excited about remembering something.

We took him back to see Dr. Webb and Dr. Lindquist. ย I just happened to sit on the same bench I where I sat holding him for the very first time. Peggy sat directly across from me, holding Titan’s leash.

Titan walked over to me and leaned up close, looking around the room. As I sat there talking to him, I felt a connection with him, and knew he was remembering what was for him a life-changing moment.

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And his near-death experience has changed him. To this day, he despises windy days, and only spends as much time outside as he has to. It doesn’t matter if it’s a warm or cold wind. I would imagine the little guy experienced enough cold, biting wind on his lonely journey to last a lifetime.

Titan is special.

And it’s not just us who think so.

I knew it, looking at his pictures Leslie sent me.

It’s obvious, even to people who’ve never seen him before.ย We walked him into Tractor Supply, and a stranger remarked on what a beautiful dog he was, and wanted to pet him.

Peggy and John tell us it happens all. the. time. No matter where they are.

As sad as we were when he left with Peggy the first time, we had no pangs when he left this time. He is right where he is supposed to be, and with the people he was meant to be with.

I’ve wondered several times about the person who dumped him. No doubt, if he (or she) could see him now, they would wish they had kept him. Titan has matured into a dog that everyone would like to have.

Of course, his dad would first like to punch whomever dumped him…and then thank him for one of the best things (besides Peggy, of course!) that’s happened to him.

As usual, the weekend went way too fast, and before we knew it, it was time for them to go. We gathered everyone in front of the fireplace for a picture.

Naturally, when we want to take a picture of our family, we can’t get the girls to sit still or be in it. But get one of someone else…and it’s a whole different story.

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It’s a canine cluster.

Here’s the Bauer family. And two Stanton butts. Go figure. ๐Ÿ˜€

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Gotta love those happy endings. And the Bauers too, of course. ๐Ÿ™‚

The Story of Orbit

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This handsome little face belongs to Orbit, our current foster dog. He’s lived with us for about a month now.

Orbit and his brother Orrey were about 3 months old when they were dumped in a rural cemetery. They lived underneath a big dumpster; starved for human attention, they would run out to greet people when they threw away their flowers.

Over the next 3 weeks, nice people gave them some food until a Good Samaritan contacted the rescue. The little guys went to separate homes so they could learn to be without each other, which would give them a much better chance at being adopted.

Orbit just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, a terrible accident happened, and he got ran over. With multiple pelvic fractures, he needed orthopedic surgery and time for the other fractures to heal. This picture was taken right after he came home from surgery.

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And crate rest. Lots of crate rest.

This is where I came into the picture. I guess you could say we are the Canine Critical Care Unit. ๐Ÿ˜€

Basically, the surgeon removed the ball joint attaching his leg to his pelvis. It had a large crack in it, and pieces were chipped off. The muscles act as a sling to protect and keep his leg and pelvis in place, and miraculously, over time, scar tissue forms. That scar tissue basically reforms a new ball joint.

That’s the simple explanation. The real one has lots of big words that I don’t know how to pronounce, much less spell. But then, that’s why I have ‘people.’ THEY know all about these things!

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Orbit’s a happy little guy. He really hated the plastic e-collar, and even though this looks like a clown collar, he was much happier with this collar. He was actually quite funny with it.

We had a few power struggles in the beginning. Orbit thought we should do things his way.

I disagreed, and after a 24-hour battle of the wills and my repeated assurance that “I am the boss of Orbit!”, we came to an agreement based on mutual respect and understanding.

I agreed that when we were all home and he was out of his crate and could be supervised I would allow him to be without his collar. In return, he agreed that when he had to wear it and go into his crate he would do it without objecting or complaining.

And he kept his word. He only made noise if he had to potty.

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ย “I’m too sexy for my shirt, so sexy it hurts…”

ย He’s a funny little guy. And he has the softest fur I’ve ever.seen.ever! It’s like he’s wearing a cashmere coat. He is so soft with big velvety ears, you just want to keep touching him. And since he believes the best place to sit is in your lap, you have plenty of opportunity.

He loves to snuggle.

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And he loves to play. But he’s not supposed to play. ย Not yet. His body is still healing.

Of course, Ekko loves to play with him. And he really wanted to play with Titan when he and his parents were here. But it’s still too soon, so whenever he gets too rowdy he has to take a sedative.

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Poor guy. Do you suppose he wonders just why, every time he starts having fun, he gets really sleepy and has to go take a nap? ๐Ÿ˜€

If only he knew.

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He gets along with the other girls pretty well, most of the time, although Charra is pretty much above the play.

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He and Charra were sharing this bed as I got ready for work the other morning. I heard snarling, and walked in to see what was up.

They both look up at me, questioningly. “Yes? Did you need something?”

I’d leave the room, and within 30 seconds I’d hear snarling again. Each time I walked in, they would give me the same look.

Clearly, this was an issue that was none of my business.

Orbit 3He still sits a little funny, but that will get better as his ย hip heals.

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Much of their playing involves them lying down. They’ve figured out nobody gets in trouble this way.

And, as always, we’ve pondered keeping him. We’ve done this several times, and each time we feel we’ve made the right decision to let them go.

If we keep him, we’ll name him Harley (he looks like a Harley), and try to figure out a babysitter while we’re gone to Florida.(Three is really too many when you’re in close quarters such as a camper. And only two people to walk them.) ๐Ÿ˜€

Something has held us back though to making it official.

And then yesterday, something happened which has made us think.

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“My name is Orbit, and I’m a crotch sniffer.”

Orbit LOVES kids. He saw the neighbors come home, and with great joy, bounded over to meet them and say hello. And tried to go back and see them several times last night.

Clearly, he misses playing with the kids at his first foster home.

And now we wonder: will we be robbing him of the joy of playing with kids if we keep him?

Sure, he would be happy with us. But are we really the best family for him?

And that, my friends, we don’t have an answer to yet. We’ll just let it ride for now, and eventually a decision will be made. (Even the lack of a decision is a decision in itself.)

He’ll either get adopted, or he won’t.ย And life will go on, until the next one.

So for now, we’ll squeeze him and his soft fur and his ears and laugh at his antics, and see where life takes us on its ‘Orbit.’ ๐Ÿ˜‰

5 Fast, Easy Halloween Decorations

2014-10-15 09.42.24If you’ve been on the run so much that your brain is drawing a blank and you have no inspiration whatsoever…then this post is for you. Enjoy. ๐Ÿ™‚

I believe there are some things in life that require a certain skill set which, for whatever reason, I simply don’t possess. I don’t know if it requires natural talent or if it’s learned behavior or simply patience.

Take weed-eating, for instance. I’ve tried to on more than one occasion; it’s simply beyond the scope of my capability. Is it because it requires too many body and brain parts to operate together in order to do it successfully? Playing the piano is another: I took lessons and advanced to the point where I began to play with both hands, and my brain simply shut down. You want me to do WHAT now? It was as if ย my head was full of bumblebees. ๐Ÿ˜€

Also in this same category is large, elaborate autumn displays. I tried to create one last year; I bought a hay bale, a scarecrow, some mums, pumpkins, and other ‘accessories’ and created a small vignette on my front deck. I was never really happy with it.

The scarecrow kept blowing around backwards – I never really liked him anyway! – the hay bale got wet and heavy, and ended up remaining on my front porch for monthsย afterwards. It lived there through the snow, sleet and freezing rain of winter, and carrying on through spring rains, until it finally started sprouting weeds. My husband hauled it off in the backhoe when we were installing our new stone flower bed. :-/

Over time, I’ve learned to accept my limitations, play to my strengths, do what I can reasonably do (and love!), and move on and enjoy my life.

Less is really more!

Simplicity is always elegant, and always in style.

Better to have a few, well-placed items that add to the beauty and harmony of your home, rather than to have it overdone and risk people thinking it’s a haunted house. (Although that does have some appeal for me, but see the above paragraphs should you need clarification on this issue.) ๐Ÿ˜€

Those of you who have the ability/time/desire/motivation to do the large, elaborate and/or clever displays may not find these ideas interesting, and that’s okay. We have different goals. But for those of you who are already overloaded, may this be the ‘push’ you needed to do a little something. Or to tweak what you have.

Remember, it’s all a matter of perspective.

1. Fill an unusual bowl with small pumpkins or gourds for a cute centerpiece.

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Choose a decorative serving bowl or platter, and place an odd number (I have 5) of pumpkins/gourds/whatever in it. The bowl should look full yet not overcrowded. You can go with a theme of two colors, or a variety of autumn tones. Whatever your fancy, it brightens your table, reflects the season, and is easy to see over if you’re eating dinner at the table.

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Is this bowl cute? I bought it at Tractor Supply. Yes, really! Doesn’t everyone get their home furnishings from farm supply stores and the local Fair? ๐Ÿ˜‰

I’d been on the hunt for something since after Christmas last year, when the platter I previously had there mysteriously disappeared after I stowed it away while a Christmas centerpiece was in its place.

What I suspect happened is that since I stowed it in a handy, but unsafe, place, it was accidentally broken. Learn from me, grasshopper.

2. Switch out your candles for fall colors.

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This is a simple fix. These candles are obviously ones I used last year, and looking at them standing alone on the holder doesn’t really look like much.But when you take into consideration that I’ve placed a couple of pumpkins alongside them as well as an autumn arrangement I’ve had out on display for several weeks now…

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It brings the whole picture together in perfect harmony. Do Be Do Be Do.

3. Add some color to your porch lights.

If you have large porch lights, you may have to settle for switching out the bulbs to some Halloween-y colors. I chose to take it a little further, however, and picked up these plastic pumpkin treat buckets to place over them.

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Aren’t they adorable? They look like such happy little guys! I had to slit the back of the pumpkin about two inches in order for it to slide over the bottom of the light. But the handle helps secure it at the top and it fits perfectly.

An Important Note: This works for me because my bulb is recessed way back up into the fixture itself and does not come into contact with or close to the plastic. Make sure yours doesn’t either, and be sure to monitor it closely in order to avoid risk of fire.ย 

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I took this picture in the early morning hours today. Although the camera doesn’t allow you to see the pumpkin faces, rest assured they are there and they look adorable! They give my porch an eery orange glow.

4. Switch out your outdoor summer pillows for a fall or Halloween version.

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Currently, my front deck looks exactly as it did this summer, except for some ‘tweaking’. In the last month, I moved my houseplants indoors, created a fall arrangement in what used to be my onion planter, swapped mums for petunias when they looked scraggly, and swapped out the pillows. And added a real pumpkin.

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Voila! I have a fall-ish front porch that’s ready for Halloween.

Over the next couple of weeks, my water feature will disappear, and so will some other items on there. If I remove them a little at a time, the porch still looks good, rather than to have everything disappear at once.

Except for where my girls have been on the hunt for the critter who has taken residence under our front deck. My beautiful new petunia flowerbed now looks like this:

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Ya win some, ya lose some. Good thing it’s the end of the season!

Sorry. Squirrel.

5. Add an unexpected element.

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Regular readers of my blog know I enjoy adding in unexpected things. And, if you read my blog regularly, you’ll also know I love dogs. Especially black ones!

Your unexpected element could be painted pumpkins, pumpkins wearing faces, a cluster of unusual pumpkins, or some unusual displays. Something unexpected that adds a touch of humor or catches a person’s eye is a great choice.

I just happened to find this adorable black dog at Home Depot, and thought it had my name all over it. HA He lights up at night, and is a fun change from a simple jack o’lantern. ๐Ÿ™‚

Everything you have here, my friends, is the sum total of all my decorating this year. I may yet haul out another thing or two, I haven’t really decided. I have significantly more than this, I just choose not to use it. I haven’t had the time this year.

Just because you have it doesn’t mean you have to use it.

Think of your Halloween supplies as your inventory, from which to pick and choose. This allows your display to be fresh and different each year.

What I’ve done is tasteful, elegant, cheerful, and understated. It’s not a pain to clean around. And it makes our house feel festive without feeling cluttered. We think it looks great.

And that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. ๐Ÿ˜€

Preparing Your Closet for Winter

I’ve always said that life is messy, and indeed it is! Apparently I am also camera challenged, as my 2-year old Sony camera that I love so much is in for repair. So for the near future, I am having to take all my pictures with my phone, which means they aren’t as clear and crisp as I’d like them to be.
2014-09-08 17.45.07I love fall. Without a doubt, it’s my favorite season, and a welcome sight after a long, hot summer.

Fall is a time for cozy-ing up, cooking, enjoying the last nice days of the season, the fall color…aaah!

It also means it’s time to get your closet ready for the coming winter months. It’s sort of a way to take inventory of what you have, what you need, and maybe even fall in love again with some old favorites. ๐Ÿ™‚

I know you’re busy, peeps. Don’t stress yourself or get overwhelmed by dragging out everything at once. There’s not really any right or wrong way, and the closet police are not going to come after you if you make a mistake.

Just do it a little at a time – you can get a lot done in 15 minutes! To make it easy for you, I’ll break it down into steps; all you have to do is move through the steps one at a time. Like magic, it will be done!

So, grab a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, and let’s take an honest assessment of your closet.

1. Pull out the summer things you love but you know you won’t wear again until next spring.ย 

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Remove them from hangers and set them aside so they won’t be in your way, especially if you’re working on this project over several days.

This may include sleeveless or short sleeve tops that you wear alone and not under a blazer as a shell. Make sure they don’t need mending or have stains. You want to store only clean, ready to wear items.

I know you read a lot that “if you haven’t worn it in a year (or two years), then get rid of it.” I disagree.ย If you love it and feel fabulous in it, keep it. You’ll eventually wear it.

Take these Minnetonka shoes, for instance. I bought them 4 or 5 years ago in Ft. Myers Beach, FL. In those last several years, I think I wore them once or twice.

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Suddenly, this summer they became my ‘go-to’ shoes. I rest my case. ๐Ÿ˜€

2. Pull out everything you know you won’t wear again.ย 

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If it is too small, doesn’t fit right, you hate it but hate to admit you wasted the money, has bad memories associated with it, or is older than your oldest child (especially if they are in junior high) it needs to go. Pronto!

If you need to try it on, this is the time to do it. Liberate yourself from clothes that drag you down!

And if you ask a friend or family member’s advice, remember, you can only look as fabulous as they are honest. So don’t be mad at them for telling you the truth. Perhaps they did you a big favor.

Bag them up, and keep the bag nearby until you’ve sorted through your winter clothes.

3. Make a neatly folded pile for items that need mended, items that need dry-cleaned, and items that need washed (or throw them into the hamper.)

If you don’t like to sew or don’t have the time, make a plan to drop them off for mending in the next couple of weeks. My mending stays in a chair in my den, which is near my purse. That way I can remember it.

4. Are you planning for a vacation this winter? Now’s the time to pack for it!

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As I was sorting through everything, I placed the items I knew I would wear in Florida this winter in a tote to carry out to our RV. It’s much more enjoyable to pack that sucker when it’s 65 degrees than -3. I’m just saying…

Be thoughtful, take your favorites, and since you wore them so recently, you’ll remember which those are. Pack them now, and label your tote so you will remember where you packed them!

5. Assess what’s left in your closet.

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You may have a few multi-season items, dress clothes, etc. Try them on, make sure they fit, make sure you love them.

Sort your shoes, get rid of any that you don’t like or don’t fit or look tired. Move your summery sandals to a less accessible spot.

Do you need to rearrange the order?

I actually switched out my closet a few weeks ago, I just haven’t sorted my shoes yet.

In the spring, I talked about how I hang everything in my closet by color. My friend Samantha takes it a step further and hangs hers according to sleeve length. What a great idea! I have done that several times, I just forget to keep doing it when I hang my laundry up. ๐Ÿ˜€

I tell you this because I want to stress that the most important thing is to create a simple system that relieves your mental stress but works for you.

And, for the love of all that is holy, if you are using wire hangers, STOP IT. This is how all your knit clothes end up with ‘hanger nipples’. Invest in some decent hangers which support your clothes, even if you have to buy just a few at a time. You don’t have to spend a fortune on them, even the plastic tube hangers are a better choice and are inexpensive. For your dress clothes, the dress and suit hangers are great to help preserve their shape.

6. Bring out your winter-season clothes.

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The fun of this is that it’s almost like Christmas. ๐Ÿ˜€ I enjoy seeing my old favorites again. But then I’m easily entertained.

As you sort and hang or fold your winter things, make an honest assessment: is there anything you know you won’t wear? That now, given the absence of a few months, just doesn’t seem right? Now’s the time: get rid of it too.

Put them in the bag with your summer clothes, then place the bag in your car NOW to drop off the next time you’re running errands.

Do you have some things that you aren’t sure you want to wear, but yet aren’t sure you want to get rid of yet? Leave them in the tote that you fill with your spring clothes. The next time you swap, evaluate them. Maybe that will make parting with them easier.

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7. Sort your accessories.

Over the coming days/weeks, sort through your accessories. Coats. Purses. Socks. Jewelry.

If it makes you feel good or you think you’ll wear it, keep it. Otherwise, bless someone else with it.

The exception to this rule is sentimental items. I have several things I have saved that have belonged to relatives and friends who have passed away. I have kept these items, but I have them stored in a separate place that isn’t in my closet.

I keep a box in the basement where I place things I’m going to donate. When the box is full, I drop it off.

Your closet should contain only the clothes you love that you’re wearing for the current season. If it’s stuffed to the gills and you can’t find anything, odds are you’re keeping items in there that shouldn’t be there. Keep things you don’t use regularly or that don’t belong there somewhere else.

8. Make a list of things you need.

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Is there a few items you need to make your wardrobe ‘complete’?

Do you need new socks? Dress pants? Turtlenecks or tees? (Those look ‘tired’ easily, so they need to be replaced more often.)

The shelf above is where I keep my tee shirts folded. Sure, I would love to have one of those closet organizing systems, but for a variety of reasons, it’s just not practical here. Not to mention I find the thought of selecting and installing it exhausting. Who has the time?

These little shelves work perfectly. You can see I’ve labeled them to simplify finding them. And if I decide not to use them here, I can multi-purpose them somewhere else in my house.

How about pajamas? Are you wearing old pajamas or lounging clothes which are stained or have holes?

Truly, the little luxuries in life have to be new socks and new pajamas. ๐Ÿ™‚

We’re moving into the time of year when we spend more time in those things. Choose something comfortable and cozy that you’ll love to wear: you’ll feel so much better! I know you may have some favorites, but if your favorites have holes and are stained, you aren’t doing yourself, or anyone you live with any favors.

If you shop with a list, you’ll be more focused, and are likely to be happier with your purchases. You’ll also SAVE MONEY! And who wouldn’t love to do that?

This year, what I needed most was cardigans which could dress up or down. Even though I wear jeans at the shop, I like to look nice in case I have an appointment or a meeting with a client. I needed something that I could wear with Uggs or dress pants. ย Recently, I’ve picked up 3, and one of them is in the new trendy color of plum for fall. Super cute! And versatile! These cardigans are timeless, so I can wear them for a long time.

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So make your list, check it twice, and carry it with you in a safe place in your purse. Anytime you shop without a list, whether it’s groceries or clothes, you risk overspending or forgetting something.

Taking the time to organize your wardrobe and accessories will truly help you have less stress in your life. It makes you feel so good to open your closet door and see only the things you love inside. You work hard, you deserve to feel good!

Happy sorting, friends. And happy fall! ๐Ÿ™‚