30 July 2010

When Keith Johnson Comes Knocking

I am still thinking about the most recent Man Shops Globe episode on Sundance Channel which originally aired Wednesday night. Sweden was splendid. One part of the episode is particularly haunting me. Keith visited a woman who makes gnomes, which are big in Scandinavia. He was intrigued with her but wasn't looking for gnomes. But in her workshop she also has hanging many unique, almost haunting felted wool birds she had made.

Keith asked to buy all of them, every one she had. Keith, the internationally known buyer for Anthropologie. That's Anthropologie! THE Anthropologie. This woman clearly didn't know about Anthropologie, which is not a store well known to Swedes apparently. But without doing any research or asking any other questions she said, Oh, no! I couldn't. Then I wouldn't have any for my craft fairs and markets.

I was stunned. Still am. Still thinking about it! Without knowing it, she gave up an opportunity to have her art seen on an international stage, in one of the most inventive and style-setting stores in the world. Who cares about craft fairs?!

Clear example of thinking too small when opportunity came to knock at her door. I feel sad for that lady. She missed a phenomenal opportunity. Opportunity came knocking, Keith Johnson came knocking and she  said "No thanks" to a chance to grow and expand her business and her life experiences. She could've flown to London for the gallery opening and met amazing, influential people. She could've appeared more on the Man Shops Globe episode. She could've had many new customers. So many opportunities lost.

The thing I walk away with is a promise to myself to never think SMALL when LARGE opportunity comes knocking, when a "Keith Johnson moment" comes knocking. Ask questions, do a little research, be open minded, think big picture and be ready to jump when the chance comes. Promise me you'll do the same. I couldn't bear to see you go "craft fair" when Anthopologie comes knocking!

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29 July 2010

Visual Snacks and Inspiration

I don't spend much money frivolously. I bargain shop for groceries, plan out my wardrobe purchases and update 2-3 times per year. I'm really avoiding impulse and entertainment shopping. I thrift shop most of my home decorating materials. Every once in a while it's fun to get a little treat of some kind. Food is not something healthy to reward oneself with. So I was thinking today, what can be my reward?

Tonight I decided to spend a few dollars on some magazine inspiration. Each one spoke specifically to some goal or objective I have in my life. One highlights charming little neighborhoods around Southern California. I've made it a goal to do day trips and be a tourist in my own town.

Another is all about coastal style home makeovers. Some good inspirations there for my island inspired home and the little dream cottage of my future. Yet another is all about decorating small spaces, which I'm doing a lot of right now. And lastly one is just all about summer living decor, food, and creative projects.

These are a few good treats I'll enjoy for a few weeks to come. I love having a magazine to browse when I have a few free minutes and I love the inspirations I get from them. A great little investment now and again. Each one cost about the same as one fast food drive thru, one fancy drink at Starbucks and will last much longer. When you are craving a treat that won't break the bank or put pounds on your hips, try an inspiring magazine.

You CAN Live On One Income -- Part Three

Part Three of You CAN Live On One Income is all about parenting and family time. Lots of these suggestions come from my growing up years. I was born on a farm and grew up living a charmed but simple life.

We made do with what we had, we participated in a lot of work around the house, yard and garden, played outside using our imaginations to create little worlds for ourselves, spent time with family and friends in the mountains picnicking, went camping and rode bikes.

We did not have fancy lives but we had great lives and grew up with great values, work ethics and a sense of gratitude. Spending time with your children is the least expensive, highest yield investment you can make to ensure their success in life.

Parenting and Family Time
  • Build a network of parent-friends you can trade babysitting with for date nights
  • Go to the park, beach or mountains regularly instead of amusement parks and other expensive entertainment.
  • Go on simple picnics instead of out to restaurants.
  • Go camping nearby instead of spending on expensive hotels and airfare
  • Organize potluck family nights with friends, family and neighbors
  • Sew and make simple gifts or offer a service like free babysitting for one night
  • Go to the library for books, CDs and DVDs
  • Use discount movie tickets, rent DVDs or swap movies with friends
  • Take advantage of free family fun at local libraries and museums
  • Go to free community concerts, outdoor movies and other events
  • Take advantage of family discounts at local stores and malls.
  • Create a budget and review community calendars for fun, low-cost activities
  • Focus on spending time with family and friends - building relationships.
  • Look at alternative public schools or joint or co-op family preschools or home schools.
  • Trade gently-used kids clothing with groups of friends
  • Join mom and parent groups where you can build relationships and learn together You'll get lots of great advice.
  • Build strong relationships and spend quality time working with your kids around the house. They learn to work and apply themselves best when doing it with you.
  • Do service. Look for people in your community that you can help. Drop off cookies to a neighbor. Make dinner for a sick friend. Teach your kids the value of selflessness.
  • Start a garden with your children. Raise your own flowers and food. Even if you live in an apartment, you can join a community garden or grow food on your balcony.
  • Buy toys and stuffed animals at thrift stores. There are lots of very inexpensive quality kids items that can be easily cleaned or laundered.
  • Buy kids furniture at thrift stores. There is a huge variety of reusable furniture out there and a quick coat of paint can take it from blah to amazing.
  • Organize a Saturday morning weekly basketball or soccer game with dads and kids in your neighborhood.
  • Buy used sporting equipment such as bikes, scooters, roller skates, etc. at thrift stores or through craigslist. There are a ton of great kids bikes out there for a song.
More than anything, kids just want time with you. You'll bless their lives if you teach them to enjoy life without constant frills, lavish gifts and entertainment and not to be dependent on money to make them happy. Teach gratitude and service to others and you will guarantee a happy life for your family.

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28 July 2010

Gorgeous CCP Photos

Had to share these gorgeous photos from a recent Christy Cropper Photography shoot. The colors, lighting and fashion are so warm you almost want to touch your screen to have a bit of it. Christy is a great talent and so much fun to be around.

Her specialty is making people not hate getting pictures taken. If you need family photos, are getting married, have a new addition or other photos needs, give Christy a call. Her prices are very reasonable and she can regularly be found in SoCal, Las Vegas and Utah.

Great Kid Mispronunciations

One of the cutest things in the world is the way kids between two and four years old pronounce words.  I’ve been keeping a list of great mispronunciations I’ve heard the past couple of years and here are a few of my favorites with translation.

Understorms as in “I hate lightning and understorms.”
Hanga-burger  as in “Hanga-burger & frwies.”
Strada-berries (strawberries)
Tadamas  (PJs)
Elagator  “the thing you ride between floors in big buildings”
Statue of LIV-erty
Flit-flots (for the feet)
Beklauz as in “beclauz I said so”
Banoons (balloons)
Menmanade (lemonade)
Woofeses (wolves)
The Horse of July (our nation’s birthday)
Embellopes (Antelope)
Lye-rovi (Library)

I’m sure you have some great ones too! What are some of the classic kid words you loved in your family growing up or with your kids now?

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27 July 2010

Sit and Stare If You Need To

Some days, after periods of immense stress, hard work or busy travel the body just sits down and doesn't want to move. You try to get up and get to your To Do list, wander around aimlessly and find yourself sitting down again...staring off into the distance. You're barely even thinking....you're just sitting.

It's always good to be productive, to be a go getter, but this feeling, the sitting and staring feeling, is the body's and mind's way of telling us, "Hey you need to slow down...really slow down." It's a feeling to should be honored and respected.

I remember reading a long time ago that mental breakdowns come from overwhelming our systems. Our bodies can only take so much stress and then our mental health will begin to break down. These breaks are not always possible to heal. We must tend to our mental well-being just as we do our physical well-being and all the people we love.

So when you feel you need to sit and stare, and it's possible, realize the respect and honor you are showing your body, mind and soul when you allow yourself to sit and stare for an hour, an afternoon, a day or even a week if necessary. You bless yourself by this small act of self care. Even plan a little sit and stare into your schedule on a regular basis. Your mind and body need rejuvenating rest and sitting and staring are one valuable way to do that.

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You CAN Live On One Income -- Part Two

If you dream of staying home with your kids and living off one income, it's part two of a weeklong series today on learning to live on one income. It's doable. Today we're hitting the kitchen and meal planning.

Kitchen and Food Planning
  • Shop weekly sales flyers from local stores and buy bulk when it's cost efficient
  • Join your local grocery store rewards program
  • Cut coupons and look for weekly on-shelf specials
  • Plan a weekly menu based on sale items. You'll save money by only buying what you need.
  • Create a dinner share program with nearby friends/neighbors
  • Share bulk purchase costs with friends
  • Stock up on favorite items during 2-for-1 sales
  • Make your own baby food and buy snacks in bulk then put in small reusable containers
  • Join a local community garden and raise some of your own food
  • Join a farmers co-op for weekly fresh deliveries
  • Make and package small servings of your favorite snacks. Have things easily available in the kitchen.
Saving money and focusing more time on what you eat will help your family eat more healthily. You might even lose that 10 pounds you put on sitting at your desk.

Get your kids involved in bargain shopping and cooking and cleaning with you.Things they need to know! They will be more willing to try new foods when they help prepare them.

Your time and teaching will pay off big time in help from them and they will need these skills when they hit adulthood. You don't want to have to cook and clean their house every time you go to visit the grandkids!

Diving In Deep Water

When I was in first grade I took swimming lessons in the heart of the freezing cold winter at the local university indoor pools. By the way, Mom, was this not something we could've done outside during the summer?

I was not very good, I just didn't get the whole concept, which is a little embarrassing considering I'm half Polynesian and should have some mystical relationship with the great sea. Maybe the chlorinated pool was the problem back then, because I've never had a problem in the actual ocean and do in fact feel very at home there. I wouldn't learn this fact until later in life.

On the second to last day of class, our teacher took us to the 14 ft. deep pool, the diving pool. She asked who would like to jump in first. I don't know what got into me but for some stupid, stupid reason I jumped right up and volunteered. Perhaps it WAS the call of the sea in that deep blue water, the call of my island ancestors' spirits who supposedly now reside in the creatures of the deep Pacific. I have no better explanation.

The teacher gave me a short review of what would happen and what technique I should use to return to the surface. I was getting nervous, but just leaped up and jumped in from pool's edge. To this day I still remember being somewhere down in the depths of that 14 feet, looking up and thinking, Wow. I had no idea how deep 14 feet really is. I gotta get outta here. I realized I had no idea what I was doing or how I was going to get out of this mess I'd gotten myself in.

I froze momentarily, panicked a bit and then with everything in me I clawed and fought my way back to the surface. I am sure my teacher recognized my terror, but when I got to the top made no comment, but to ask who would like to go next. I have bravely led the way in.

I thought about this, comparing it to my life and the lives of so many others. For those of us who enjoy peace and safety, jumping in the deep end can be a hard thing to do. I realized I've been doing a lot of jumping into the deep ends of things the past few months. None of my leaps have been easy. 

And yet I keep raising my hand and saying, "I'll try that." I jumped in a real doozy last week. Did it again today. I'm learning to like the feeling of being 14 deep, looking up and anticipating how good I will feel when I climb to the surface and pull myself up on the pool's edge to sit, breath and look back at the depths I've just come from.

If you're dreaming about diving into the deep end of a new area of your life, remember there are others out here awaiting your arrival. Look forward to a warm welcome and all the help you need. You'll be happy you did, again and again.

Diving into the deep end, when your heart tells you it's a good thing, is an exhilarating experience. I am so intrigued to see what will come from my diving. It's going to be a very interesting few weeks and months as I see my bravery hit some higher diving boards and deeper depths. Maybe I should buy some cute new bathing suits for this ride.

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25 July 2010

The Value of Home Arts

The ordinary arts we practice every day at home
are of more importance to the soul
than their simplicity might suggest.

-Thomas Moore

This quote is on my kitchen calendar for July. I can't stop thinking about it. What are we missing out on in this day and age where the art of the home had been replaced by the art of the car, the office, the take-out restaurant, the day care, the drive-thru and the maid?

I really want to see and feel his meaning deeply. I want to know the value of ordinary arts to the human soul, to my soul.

You CAN Live On One Income - Part One

Are you a working mom in a two-income family who longs to stay home with your kids? Does it seem impossible that your family could afford to lose an income? Here's a new series where I'll show you areas where you can cut back your expenses and live off one income. Lot's of people are doing it.

Rather than giving the bulk of your time and energy to the office, apply all your smarts to running an efficiently run home. Once you minus childcare, wardrobe and commuting costs, you're already well on your way to balancing the books without a second income! Today I'm focusing on saving money in your homekeeping.

  • Shop at dollar stores for cleaning supplies, toothpaste, soap, and other medicine cabinet basics.
  • Shop thrift stores - esp. for kids and men's casual clothing, furniture, home decor and storage containers.
  • Use free and trade web sites to give what you don't need and get what you do
  • Cut the cable or digital TV. Get an HG receiver and take advantage of free channels. Watch episodes of your favorite series for free online.
  • Sell expensive sporting/hobby gear you don't use often enough
  • Do your own house cleaning. Follow a simple, organized plan.
  • Do your own yard work.
  • Shop in free parking neighborhoods. Don't shop as a hobby or entertainment. You go, you spend.
  • Make connections with friends and family you can trade services with. Do graphic design for your hair stylist, trade yard work for plumbing, etc. In the Home Depot age, most of your friends and neighbors will be DIY specialists at something.
  • Cut back on water, gas and power waste.
  • Find the least expensive gas station in your neighborhood and plan a weekly or bi-weekly fill up
  • Plan use of car trips, cut back on unnecessary driving.
  • Check to see if you can save $ on car insurance now that you're not commuting daily.
  • Buy and use an inexpensive used bike (and kid trailer if you need it.)
  • Clear the clutter. Sift through your house, room by room and clear out what you don't need. Sell it, give it away to friends or family, donate it to charities, recycle it. You'll spend less money having to store and maintain all the stuff that "owns" you.
You can be at home, raise your kids, be less stressed, less tired and a more loving, sexy wife to your husband. Don't try to keep up with the "Joneses". Don't worry about your former schoolmates and what they'll think. They probably won't admit it, but they'll be jealous.

Start talking to your friends who are staying at home and making it. They'll give you great encouragement, help and ideas. Most importantly your kids and spouse will thank you for making them your focus, having more energy and making home a great place where everyone wants to be.

23 July 2010

Z Gallerie Colorful Summer Sale

Took a quick browse through the sale section of ZGallerie today. I've known ZGallerie for eons but have only recently realized what a great resource it is...it's so right up my style alley, but the great thing is that they have great stuff that fits almost every taste and style. Applause for ZG! Check out their beautiful sofa collection sometime!

Love the bag of starfish! So many projects and little styling touches you could do with these. I see a beautiful starfish garland on a gorgeous string strung across an large doorway or mantle.

These colorful lanterns. A patio. Mixed colors or all color coordinated with candles burning. Dinner party. Friends...charming!

Brunch, sunny weekend morning under one of these beautiful umbrellas. Eggs, french toast, fresh fruit, juice. Relaxation and good company.

This splendid lantern on a table. Sitting outside near a firepit, roasting marshmallows, making s'mores, talking to good friends you haven't seen in a while. Delightful!


In the bedroom. Dappled lighting, late morning dreaminess. This dresser holding your treasures and this bed inviting your slumber.

This mirror in your front entry way. You catch a glimpse of yourself as you head out the face the world. You stop and smile. "Hello, you! Good to see you!"

Set yourself apart at great sale prices. ZGallerie is a great inspiration and resource for unique, style-setting decor for your abode. 

Nothing Draws People Closer Together Than...

 draws people closer together
than a sincere apology
for pains one has caused
or an expression of
heartfelt gratitude for blessings
bestowed by another
 on one's life.


Have a wonderful weekend. May you be blessed with grace, joy and closeness with those you love!

photos via

Visit Some of My Favorite Utah Shops

Just spent some time in Utah. Thought I would share 10 fun spots I have visited and would recommend.

1.       Deseret Industries Thrift Stores – locations: downtown, Sugar House, American Fork, Provo. Great big warehouse-like stores. My favorite areas are the house wares, furniture and for some reason the holiday decoration section.

2.       Les Madeleines Bakery and CafĂ© – downtown SLC. We had a great lunch, the most delicious ham and cheese and fries I have ever had and washed it down with a lavender lemonade that was so refreshing. Then we indulged in sweets including the lemon tart, chocolate cupcake, carrot cake cookie.  The only disappointment was that they were closing for two-week summer holiday the day after we arrived in Utah.

3.       Thrift Town Thrift Store – Brickyard (33rd south & 13th east). I was really impressed with this store. I haven’t visited there in many, many years. The selection was great for clothes, frames, furniture and more. The kids clothing section was impressive!

4.       Granny’s Drive-In  – Heber. Good burgers and fries and famous for their huge selection of shakes. Sitting out front in the cool mountain breeze was lovely!

5.       Quilter’s Haven – I did a quick quilt tutorial with my aunt in Davis County. She took me to this fantastic quilt shop in Bountiful. I was really inspired by how cutting edge the shop was. They have the most fantastic fabrics. They also have all the coolest on trend accessories, patterns and inspirations. I don’t get blown away by fabric stores too often, but I can say I was really impressed.

6.       Sundance Catalog Store (Sugar House or 123rd South just east of 1-15) – I have found some of the most incredible deals at the Sundance Catalog Store. I made the mistake of passing up a pair of Frye boots for $50 a few years ago and still regret it. I also bought a fantastic pair of Frye sandals from there years ago that got rave reviews wherever I went. They have great clothing, shoes, jewelry and house wares.

7.     DownEast Home and Clothing (13th East, 123rd just east of 1-15, Center and State St. in Orem) – Found a candleholder I loved made out of old barn wood and some other fun house ware items. In the end I ended up buying a cute dress. Big stores with big selection, a little different in every store.

8.     Arctic Circle – All over the Wasatch Front. Great shakes, fantastic fry sauce, good food…old school Utah.

9.     Home Fabrics – Orem (University Parkway just south of State Street) I used to love this shop when it was $2 fabric store, across the street from its current location. They have an amazing selection of interior design fabrics. I fall in love with several bolts every time I go it. My mom and I did our shopping for her new headboard here. The fabric was $5.99/yard. Fantastic deal.

10.   Lani Kai Hawaiian Barbecue Grill (1072 West South Jordan Parkway) – Utah definitely has a good Polynesian influence and large Poly community. Lani Kai is a great place for an old school Polynesian plate lunch. Check out the Fry Bread for dessert. Mmmm.

Photo: This darling pendant is available on Etsy from seller IvieRidge for only $10.50! So cute if you have any connections to the Beehive State!

22 July 2010

Talkin' Food, Playin' House Full of Food Inspiration


Here's a fun, new-to-me blog I had to share. This darling sister duo are both happy wives, moms to two cute kids, great cooks, photographers and writers. Their food blog has inspired me to expand my cooking routine and have more fun in the kitchen. So glad we reconnected, gals!

Here are links to a few of my favorite posts:

And I'm definitely going to have to try this one. The Man loves banana bread!

My mouth is totally watering just reviewing again these recipes. Check out Talkin' Food, Playin' House. You will definitely find something to make your mouth water!

Charming Swedish Clocks

I don't know when I first fell in love with Swedish floor clocks but there is something amazingly charming about them. I love that are tall and stately, rounded and feminine, strong and bold. I find creating a palate of varying furniture heights is always a challenge and these gorgeous clocks bring a tall AND curvy element to larger pieces which are so regularly giant rectangles (bookcases, armoires, etc.)

These babies don't come cheap, close to $2,000 for originals. I remember that I once saw a designer make a very simple version of one of these clocks on a home fix-up show once but haven't been able to find it online. There have to be some more modern options out there. But for now, enjoy these classic old gals. The basic pine are so gorgeous. I love the painted white ones too. And you can always find a few with ornate painted details too. It's amazing how each one has simple and unique detailing.




A gorgeous pine Swedish floor clock is on my wish list, one of these days. Doesn't have to be an original antique, just something fitting the look and style. With any luck, one day I'll run into just the right gal at just the right time.

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21 July 2010

Traveling with Kids

Have been putting together a post on traveling with children. Reminded me of this very funny story. Early this summer The Little Bug and I flew out to meet up with The Man (aka The Daddy) on a work trip in Newport, RI.

The Little Bug did great, as she always has, on the plane. Slept for a while, colored and played. Near the end of our first leg her ears started hurting. I showed her how to pop her ears. "No, I want you to fix it," she said pitifully. My heart was breaking. I tried again to get her to pop her ears. She refused, "No, I want you to fix it." The crying did not stop until we got close to the ground and her ears adjusted to the air pressure again.

As we landed I prepared her for what would happen next. We would stay on the plane, some people would get off, some people would get on, we would take another short flight and then be in Providence. She was not fond of this plan. I again rehearsed my encouraging speech. This did not go over well.

"I n-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-d  my  fre-e-e-e-e-dom! I ne-e-e-e-e-e-d  a-i-r-r-r-r-r! I have to get O-U-T of here," she yelled. Then she repeated the same sentence again, then came tears, then anger. I understood her desperation but had to bite my lip hard not to bust up laughing. "I need my freedom," really, where do kids come up with this stuff?!

Our seat mate and all the people now jammed in the aisle looked at me holding back their laughter and smiling with looks that seemed to say, "Good luck with that," "Sorry for you," and "That's hilarious." 

She was inconsolable while the plane emptied, was cleaned and restaffed. My saving grace was the head flight attendant who gave us another kid pack with crayons, activity book and pilot wings. I thought The Bug would grumpily tell her she already had one. I cringed, waiting, but she happily took it, quieted right down and did all the activities in the book.

In the end, she was a complete gem for the entire trip and had one of the greatest travel adventures a four year old could ever have. It was a magical trip where she enjoyed hours and hours of outside play each day, chased butterflies, birds and bunnies, made art projects from dandelions, leaves, sticks, rocks and grass, gathered shells and sea glass, had all the freedom she could hope for and breathed lots of fresh ocean air.

Home Goods Mirror Tour

Lots of great mirrors at Home Goods right now. Here's a quickie tour. They had some of the most fantastic table lamps I've seen around as well. Great place to browse if you need stylish things for your home at great prices.

It's no secret that a well-placed mirror can make a room look more open, brighter and larger. Why go with a boring rectangle framed option when there are so many fresh, eye-grabbing options available at comparable prices?

This is a fun twist on the sunburst clocks and mirrors that are so popular right now. This just had a little more detail and personality that I've seen at comparable prices.

Imagine this making a fantastic statement in a charming front entry.

This classic would work well in a variety of settings.

This has sleek and modern written all over it. The square and round motifs give it a warm softness that is often hard to incorporate in a cold straight lined modern style.

20 July 2010

Rescue Plan for Organizational Burnout

This is not a terribly attractive sight. This is where I stood a couple of nights ago. Believe it or not I made this mess in a couple of hours just emptying out and sifting through one closet.

Since my childhood I have memories of losing interest and steam in such activities at about the 80 percent completion stage. You're exhausted and it sounds better just to light the place on fire than push through to the end.

After several weeks of on-going house reorganization and redecorating projects, I have hit the wall. So I decided to come up with a list of baby steps I could take to get this room cleaned up. I should be done with all major reorganization projects once I get this all put away. Thanks goodness!

So heres how I started my list. Maybe this will help you the next time you get bogged down cleaning and reorganizing a room.

The List
1) Put away all paper crafting items
2) Put away bag of reusable bags and my laptop box
3) Put away remaining pieces of fabric, patterns and sewing related items
4) Put away all books
5) Put away all magazines
6) Put away all paper documents for storage
7) Put away all work documents for storage
8) Put away all framed art that needs to be stores
9) Find a place for small box of easter stuff
10) Go through white file box (last one!)
11) Put away all shoes and sports equipment
and so on......

I made each item something I can do either in a few seconds or minutes. Long list, but faster gratification. Breaking it down into bite size pieces makes me feel I will start seeing progress quickly. Here's to a quick completion of my work.

Follow up: Whew. That was...well, not that much fun. But here's a good After photo for you. I have a few papers on the table and ottoman that will be put away shortly. This is the living room with the furniture stacked willy nilly until I get the new couch in.

Things are coming along. For the living room my final two goals are 1) Clean the carpet, 2) Get the couch. Okay 3) is rearrange the furniture and make it look snazzy.

Before and After -- Kitchen Window

So, upgrading this old apartment requires a good bit of creativity. But I really wanted a fresh, vibrant life upgrade this summer, so I've put a good bit of time into figuring out little, inexpensive ways to brighten up my home.

A rental is a challenge when you can't paint the walls or cabinets, can't tear out an ugly floor covering or change the major configurations. My kitchen has always been weak on decor possibilities, but after playing with a few different window covering possibilities the end result really surprised me.

I had chosen this sweet little lemon and orange pattern. But it didn't pop quite enough for my decorating consulting team (the Man and our darling friend and former neighbor.) The Man, who is pretty artistic in his own right, suggested the same fabric I used for the kids' play table and when I climbed up into the window and held up the fabric for them to view from across the room I got  good reviews.

I wanted the curtain to be two sided so I used one yard of fabric ($8.99), beefed it up with a heavy interfacing that I already had on hand and folded it in half, sewed it up and sewed in a channel for the resistance rod I used to suspend the drape between the two cabinets. It took about an hour to sew it up. I was making up the pattern and steps as I went along, so I tried to move slowly and not make any mistakes. 

Here's the finished project. It looks really vibrant with the light coming in the window and makes the cabinets look more cheery than they normally do. And I don't hate the horrible light fixture so much now. Now it's time to update the main kitchen wall. A Before and After for another day.

19 July 2010

It's Rodeo Season and I Need These Boots

Okay it is high season for rodeos across the Western U.S.- particularly my home state where you could hit a rodeo every weekend from June to September. However, I am nowhere near a rodeo arena. I don't need these boots. But I fell HARD for these girls the moment I saw them in the lastest Sundance Catalog. They are everything I think a good, girly cowgirl boot should be!

In my dreams I would wear them to a cowboy gathering of some sort at The Pioneer Woman's ranch, eat homegrown BBQ and look at Wranglers. Haahaa. I was never the Wranglers type, but I could be if it was required.

Too too bad there is not a gift-gettin' holiday of any sort in my future until Christmas....Aww, Shucks.

The Cost of Convenience

We're all a little more careful about our budgets these days. Here's a little reminder about the outrageous cost of convenience. I like baby carrots, I like little bags of baby carrots because I can grab them and go. The cost of convenience is $1.99 for six ounces of carrots.

Up a shelf from these convenient carrots you can find a two pound bag (that's 32 ounces) of carrots for $1.79. That's right, twenty cents less for more than four times the weight of carrots. Plus you can also use these carrots as a vegetable a couple of nights a week, put carrot shavings in salads, on tacos and more!

Would it kill anyone to get a few tiny resealable bags or use little reusable food containers and cut up a bunch of carrots and package them up in single servings on the weekend for the coming week?

The grocery store reflects some of the greatest inflation of costs of anything we regularly pay for. With a little smart shopping there is a LOT of money to be saved. I'm trying to be smarter, buy less expensive brands and in bulk when it's practical, stock up when things are on sale, shop less expensive grocery stores, and when it comes to fresh ingredients only buying what I know I can use to cut down on waste.

What cost cutting measures are you taking at the grocery store these days? Please do share!

Great Saturday at Goodwill

I haven't been to my neighborhood Goodwill for a few weeks now. I try to stop in every few days since new things hit the floor every few minutes of the day. At least half of my home decor comes from thrift stores and I've saved a TON of money over the years.

First thing I noticed is that even at the thrift stores, the fall clothing in on the racks. Time to start updating the wardrobe for Fall 2010. Early bird gets the worm and a lot of times the savings too! I was happy to find a couple of items to kick off my update at Goodwill Saturday.

Here's the rundown:
1) Large Mirror -- ($14.99) The frame is metal and scraped up enough that it's going to need some repair or a complete repaint. I'm thinking repaint, because as much as I totally love dark brown home furnishings, I have come to the realization that I have way too much of it. A Before and After coming soon on that.

2) Bamboo Vase -- ($2.99) No idea what I am going to do with that, but it goes and I'll figure it out. I'm rarely this vague about something I buy, but we'll just have to see what happens with this.

3) White Lantern -- ($3.99) I am pretty sure I just saw this at Z Gallerie a few weeks ago. It is new and was priced on the bottom for $14.99. I'm debating a little spray paint work on this, but I do like the white. I just feel like it lacks a little impact against cream colored walls.

4) Wood Bowl -- ($3.99) A few weeks ago in NYC, I fell in love with the most amazing wood bowls. They started at $75. I just kept envisioning one on a long outdoor dinner table surrounded by friends, lined with a beautiful little cotton napkin and full of delicious french bread. This bowl looks amazingly like them and the savings is obvious. If I'd known I would find this a few weeks later I wouldn't have spent so much time lamenting the fact that I didn't buy the $75 bowl! I think I might sand it down, round the edges a little bit more with some sand paper and then juice it up with some Claphams beeswax.

5) Orange and White Scarf -- ($2.99) This scarf caught my eye quickly. I was thinking about wearing it in my hair as a bandana or around a ponytail, or around the neck in a tidy little scandinavian knot. Love the colors of course, a bit of gray, black, orange and white. Still bright and cheery but very transitional for fall.

6) Saffron Handbag -- ($7.99) I love this leather quilted purse and it's in perfect condition with no signs of wear. It looks and feels very luxurious, rich and supple. When I saw it the words Fall 2010 Wardrobe flashed in my head. I am feeling it with dark jeans, boots and jacket. It came with a long chain handle which I despise, so this will be a true handbag and not a shoulder bag.

That's the Goodwill wrap for today. As you are cleaning basements, closets and garages this summer, think about donating usable items to a good thrift store or people you know are in need. It's amazing how much we accumulate that we don't need or use. In this financial climate, there are plenty of people who could use some help! And donating to thrift stores can be a tax deduction.

Have a great day and as always thanks so much for stopping by!

16 July 2010

Before and After -- Bamboo Tray

Here's a quickie Before and After. Took only five minutes of my time. This is the inside surface of the lovely bamboo tray I picked up thrifting last week for $3. Some water stain issues, but nothing I thought couldn't be solved. I thought about glueing some pretty paper or fabric on the inside of the tray, but first I decided to just try conditioning the wood.

I remembered that I had some fantastic beewax finish by Clapham's in my kitchen drawers that I use on my wooden spoons, breadboards and other wood surfaces in the kitchen. To save my life I can't remember if I bought this at Williams-Sonoma or Restoration Hardware. Here's a link where you can see where it is available near you. The packaging has changed since I first purchased this, it's been a few years at least.

Here is the new and improved bamboo tray after a quick rubdown with Clapham's. It still has a nice aged patina but the water rings are nearly invisible.

Stay tuned for more Before and Afters coming soon!

10 Steps to Write a Great Craigslist Ad & Wrap Up A Quick Sale

After scouring the pages of the Los Angeles craigslist site the past few weeks, I 've learned some valuable lessons on writing a winner ad. With a little creativity and lots of helpful information you will give buyers everything they need to quickly snap up your sale items!

1.  Write a great headline – This is what will draw people to look at your ad. Be honest, be clear, be enthusiastic. In your title use keywords like both sofa and couch because some will search one word and others will search another, desk, wingback chair, etc. Don't just put "lots of stuff" or something generic that tells shoppers that they are going to have to sift through your ad to figure out what you are selling.

If you are selling many things, put key words in for your most promising items. Going through hundreds of craiglists posting every day is already exhausting enough. Savvy or tired shoppers will not make the effort to search through ads that don't give enough detail.

2.  Tell a winning story – why are you selling the furniture? Be charming when you explain that you are taking a big step to move to another country, you’ve met the man of your dreams or are downsizing to leave a corporate job you hated and do what you really love. Tell a fun story and you’ll attract buyers. Be positive, not depressing to potential buyers. They don’t want furniture with sad or negative kharma.

3.  Be sure to give a “last day available” date in your post if you must sell an item quickly. This will help buyers make decisions and plans. This also creates a sense of urgency to buyers, “this piece will only be available until Friday! I better act now.”

4.  Include two photos of the merchandise. The photo can make or break a successful sale. Make sure your furniture looks good and the lighting enhances it. Include one straight on and one from the side. Photos are a must. An ad with no photo is a waste of people’s time.

5.   Give every detail about the item that you can. Give all the critical measurements, brand, color, fabric type, age, if you’ve cleaned it, any noticeable damage, etc. Don’t make buyers email you and ask for the information they want to know. Make it easy for them. This will help you and potential buyers by saving time, frustration and lag time waiting for communication. They can have their decision mostly made by the time they first contact you.

6.   Let buyers know what to expect --If they will need to bring help to move the furniture, how hard it will be to get it from where it is to the street (lots of stairs, a long way from the street, extremely heavy, etc.).

7.  Be specific about what information you would like from them: how to reach you (phone vs. email), what to put in the subject line if they email you if that matters, how you will receive payment – cash only, check, PayPal, etc. and anything else that will make communications and interactions as clear and simple as possible.

8.  Stay on top of correspondence. Don’t make buyers wait to hear back from you. They could be sealing the deal with another seller if it takes too long for you to get back with them.

9.  Be wary of online scams and unsavory characters. Look for hints that a potential buyer is not on the up and up. If they try to sell you a strange story, say they are out of the country or ask you for unusual arrangements, you should be concerned. End communications if you have any concerns and do not give these people any personal information.

10.  Be positive, friendly and hopeful in your conversations with buyers. It’s already uncomfortable enough to think about meeting a stranger on their turf. Do all you can to keep it simple, friendly and quick.

11. Bonus Tip: Never be alone when a potential buyer comes to your home. It's always smart to have another person there just  for basic safety purposes. A stranger is coming into your home. Be sensitive to personal or valuable items you may have laying out in public view that could be easily taken without your notice. And if anything goes wrong or there is any dispute with the buyer later on, you have a witness. Just having another person there will alleviate most potential problems from the get go.

Be witty, detailed and wise and you will have a great experience selling on craigslist and more money in your pocket! Happy selling!

15 July 2010

A Good Interior Design Giggle

I had to share this photo I grabbed the other day and to let you know that this chair was still available two days ago for $50 and the plastic cover IS included in that price. Fantastic. Can you imagine living with plastic covers on your furniture?! It seems WAY more unsanitary than upholstery you could vacuum.

This was a moment of Americana that I just had to capture for my own pleasure and yours. It's not a half bad chair actually, with a charming little re-upholstery job and that ghastly cover thrown into the nearest recycling bin!

10 Steps to Sell Your Furniture FAST on Craigslist

After reviewing the furniture section of the Los Angeles craigslist site for several weeks, I’ve learned some valuable lessons about selling furniture online. Here are 10 things you can do to ensure a quick and easy sale. I’ll use a sofa as an example.

1.       Look at a variety of listings at the same site to get an idea of the price range of comparable items. What you think your grandma’s sofa may be worth and the going rate for comparable items may be vastly different.

2.       Figure out a realistic price. If you want to sell your item in the current environment you need to consider that value does not necessarily equal selling price. Selling price is affected more by the going rate than what the item is worth. An expensive used sofa may not be as interesting to potential buyers as a less expensive new sofa. Keep in mind that in the new economy new sofas and sectionals can be purchased for less than $500.

3.       Get the following basic measurements –  1) length – from the outside of the left arm to the outside of the right arm. 2) depth – from front of seat cushion to back wall of sofa. 3) height – from floor to higest point of sofa back.

4.       Follow up with the following additional measurements1) Seat height – from floor to top of seat cushion, 2) arm width – the width of one arm, 3) seat depth – from front of seat cushion to the back of the cushion itself. This is the amount of space that is available for sitting or lying down.

5.     Get links to online manufacturer information. If you purchased the item from a web site where information is still available go to the site and copy the link so that you can put it in your ad.

6.       Consider cleaning or repairing the sofa if needed. Do a spot check and be sure you are aware of any flaws that might be seen by potential buyers.

7.       Prep for a good photo. It doesn’t take much effort to shake and fluff up the cushions and then straighten them and put them back in place neatly. But it’s amazing how many people don’t make that small effort. A well situated sofa has a look of quality, a sloppy sofa raises concerns that the piece is not clean or is of poor quality.

8.      Take a great photo. Make sure lighting is good. Try to take picture during the day with as much natural light as possible. Take a straight on shot showing the entire length of the sofa and take a photo from the side showing the depth.

9.       Make sure you know the appropriate and most up-to-date terminology for the item you are selling. Know the proper name, is it a couch or loveseat? What is the brand, style and age of the piece? What is the name of the fabric upholstery or construction method? You’ll garner more respect from potential buyers when you speak knowledgeably.

10.    Remember your effort to sell your sofa will improve the price you will be able to get from buyers. The small efforts you put into a quality listing will allow you to sell your furniture faster and at a higher price because buyers will perceive more value.

Now that you have all your information together and you're ready to be an empowered seller, come back tomorrow for 10 tips for writing an eye-grabbing craigslist ad that will sell your furniture quickly with as little time and effort as possible.

14 July 2010

Domenica More Gordon Dog Sculptures on Man Shops Globe

Did you see the amazing little wool dog sculptures by Domenica More Gordon on Man Shops Globe tonight? So darling. I would love one, probably not a frilly girl dog, I'd go for a lab gentleman or something like that. These are so small, but so charming they are irrisistible. In tonight's episode they auctioned for 6,500 to 9,000 dollars a piece!

I can only imagine the amount of talent, time and creativity that is required to make each one of these amazing, full of personality sculptures from tiny bits of felted wool. Applause for an amazing and generous artist!

photo 1 via
photo 2 via
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