28 December 2011

For A Happy You In The New Year

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If you are contemplative about the coming new year, here are a few gems from the archives that might help you joyfully and calmly exit 2011 and enter 2012. It's an amazing time of year but can be a bit overwhelming too. Here's to a little peaceful reading on a quiet winter's day.

Create A Vision Board for the New Year
Being Born Into The New Year -- Baby steps, baby steps.
A Beautiful Life Lesson for the New Year
A New Year's Gift to carry in your heart this coming year
What will you put in your Treasure Chest from 2011?
Get in touch with Your Own Personal Style as you enter the new year
Be the You That You See In Your Dreams this year. She's so close.
Are there 12 Things You'd Love To Do in January 2012?
Start a Prayer Wish Jar to send your prayers out into the world

Hope you'll get some bits of inspiration as you create your own personal entry into the new year. I'm thinking of you and your hopes and dreams as I think of mine and wishing for all a year of joy, happiness and peace.

26 December 2011

Inspiration For A New Year

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Hope you had a lovely Christmas. It was a beautiful day here in Southern California. Couldn't have asked for better weather. It's amazing how many lovely, enjoyable things you can do in a whole day when you have the time.

And now there is a new year just over the bend. I have to say I'm a little relieved to have Christmas behind us and be able to look ahead this week. I love thinking about a new year. This year already promises to be an unusual one for me and mine. I already know there will be some BIG changes and adjustments - some we've happily chosen and some that come as a part of commitments, career, etc. Our challenge will be our efforts to work with these realities to make it a fantastic year.

I am also looking forward to a fresh start for my own personal goals and development. I have found myself looking at my bookshelf a lot the past few days, the shelf where I keep inspiring guidebooks for life with titles like As A Man Thinketh, Simplify Your Life, The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women, Detox For Life, Work in Progress.

I want to sit down and read every one of them this week. How's that for setting myself up to start the year with failure -- haa, haa. But no I will not put that kind of pressure on myself. I will keep it simple. I'm thinking about my goals for a happy life and perhaps a new 2012 vision board. I am happy to look at my old 2011 vision board and see that quite a good bit was either successfully achieved or moved a good bit farther along in my life. Then there is one section that is glaringly lacking. I'm working on that side now. Out the door in minutes.

Are you thinking about 2012 now? What tools do you use to structure your thoughts and goals for the new year? What authors are your guides? I love the ideas you share and all you teach me. Hope it's a great day for you with time to sit and relax! The day after Christmas is definitely a day for relaxing. Enjoy.

23 December 2011

Recipe For A Heartwarming Holiday TV Movie

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Today I thought I would share a laugh with you. While I have been working on projects over the past few weeks I've found it quite entertaining to have a holiday movie on in the background. Hallmark and Lifetime channels have been more than happy to oblige me in the evenings.

This is a comedic take on everything I have learned about what it takes to make a holiday TV movie over the past six weeks. A few necessary elements required:

1) A heroine- lovable but too headstrong (usually blond)

2) She either:
  • lives in a small town & works for family business or
  • went to the big city because she's too good for the small town & has come home for the holidays
3) Her rich, arrogant, jerk boyfriend/suitor (usually blond with a name like Steven Edward James III) - he always wants to take her away from:
  • her small hometown or
  • her family
  • the job she loves or
  • her kids' dad
so he can shower her with worldly goods and let her know all she's been missing in her simpleton world.

4) A potential dark haired suitor who is helplessly smitten by her. He is a kind, lovable:
  • neighbor or
  • lifelong friend or
  • former military man
  • and/or possibly a stranger who has suddenly appeared in town.
  • Usually a manual laborer or someone who has left "success" for a simpler life who fixes things around her house and/or helps her with her kids or parents.
5) Her parents who are:

  • big time meddlers or
  • overly calm & full of wise advice or
  • dead or
  • being taken advantage of by some evil power often the evil boyfriend/suitor.
6) A proposal from Evil Suitor which she half-heartedly accepts
  • always in front of a large crowd at his family's extravagant holiday party or
  • her office party or
  • at her family Christmas dinner
  • and always in front of Kind Suitor
7) Her realization of true love with Kind Suitor often realized by:
  • the holding of a candle
  • singing of Christmas carols
  • bad behavior by Evil Suitor as he asks her to marry him
  • Kind Suitor leaving town on his motorcyle or by hitchhiking and
  • her finally, finally realizing Kind Suitor has always had her back & loves her family
Throw in some B, C and D list actors and VIOLA you have a heartwarming holiday classic! Stay tuned, maybe another day I'll break down the "Family Divided" holiday movie where mom and dad are splitting up and the kids have to get them back together OR the kids are fighting and mom, dad and mischievous grandparents have to pull the family back together and save Christmas. Haa-haa. I kid, I kid.

Hope you're having a great day. I'm scrambling. Hope you have a very, very Merry Christmas!

22 December 2011

A Merry Little Meltdown

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I'm in a panic today. I was doing so well with my Christmas plans the past few weeks and then last week everything went off the tracks. Only I didn't really realize it until today. The Christmas cards have been written, addressed and waiting stamps for over a week, a bag of presents sits unwrapped, three gifts are still unmade and one gift yet to be purchased, cookies have been baked but not frosted to take to friends and neighbors. 

What was so ahead of schedule and totally on target last week has now become a last minute disaster zone - and I'm already tired. Hmmmm. In the long run I know this will all be okay, but I don't like where I stand today. I will tell you what I have spent the past week doing - spending time with The Man and The Bug -- quality AND quantity time. And how can I possibly begrudge that?

I will remember the memories we've made this week, including holiday concerts, Christmas movie nights together, special dinners, shopping trips and a whirlwind of a day at the Happiest Place on Earth yesterday, long after I forget the rush to finish things up here at the last second. I'm trying to remind my panicked self of this today while I look at a very tight budget of time, resources and energy - not to mention a last minute trip to the fabric store - I'd rather go to the dentist.

I feel a bit like a truck hit me today. Ack. But it's our last day all together before Christmas so I am going to bite the bullet for one more day and head to the theater for a holiday movie today. Then tomorrow I am really going to have a ton to do.

So fair blog friends, are you in a panic or have you wisely avoided it this year? Any great ideas for keeping the stress at a minimum the next few days? Hope you're preparations are going well and you are ready for a happy and relaxing holiday!

21 December 2011

Christmas Eve On Sesame Street - Family Fun!

image via amazon

Watching Christmas Eve on Sesame Street on Christmas Eve has been a family tradition in my family for many years. Because my sister cannot seem to find her copy and often forgets it when she returns for the holidays I felt compelled to pick it up on DVD this week. The Man, The Bug and I watched it last night and it was great fun to watch The Bug's delightful giggling throughout and even hear The Man (watching somewhat against his will) laughing and enjoying himself.

This is really a holiday special designed to be enjoyed by the entire family. There are so many catchy tunes and hilarious and touching little vignettes. You might be surprised how much your family might enjoy this one. Oh, I do have to say that I got a little freaked out when The Bug referred to Burt as "The Yellow Headed One" -- Egads! Children in America no longer know Bert & Ernie?! I have to say I was saddened and a bit shocked.

Today we are going on a grand holiday adventure and I must be on top of my game in every way. This has been a crazy week with more appointments and bothers to deal with than expected. I've been getting a lot of reading done while waiting in offices and businesses around the city. Feeling a little cuckoo about sitting on uncomfortable chairs in waiting rooms now. So I'll keep this short today and know that I'll be back on Thursday with a report on our holiday baking.

20 December 2011

A Great Cookie With a Good Book

image via Wendy McClure

Yesterday was a gnarly day. That's the only way I can describe it. Long and gnarly. By the end of it, I was so tired I was rushing people through eating an ice cream cone so I could get home. It ended nicely though with a lovely concert, many delightful friends, a viewing of a favorite Christmas special The Snowman and frosting some delicious gingerbread cookies. Being at home made me feel so completely happy.

Today I thought I would share with you two things that are perfect for a night at home, away from the crowds, obligations, outside stresses and unpleasant tasks: a favorite cookie recipe and the current book I am reading.

As you may remember, last year about this time I started reading The Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder with The Bug. It has been a most delightful experience every night possible. We are now on the second to last book and I am thinking hard about what book series we'll pick up after that.

As we have read these books I have sought ought more information about the Ingalls family including a biography titled Laura Ingalls Wilder (Essential Lives) by Emma Carlson Berne. I decided this week to read The Wilder Life by Wendy McClure. It is an interesting tale of one Laura Ingalls Wilder fan's effort to step into "Laura World" and experience life as described in the fictionalized, yet somewhat truth-based book series penned by Mrs. Wilder. It's a fun and interesting read, perfect for winter reading.

Pairing that up with a favorite winter cookie, gingerbread and a cup of tea would be a perfect match. Here's the link to the gingerbread recipe I have been using for several years with great success. My favorite thing to do is  use a star-shaped cookie cutter, then ice them to look like snowflakes sprinkled with chunky white sugar crystals. They are so pretty and taste so good with a tangy lemon frosting.

Hope you are having some peaceful, enjoyable nights this holiday season. There is something nice about how the shorter days and colder nights encourage us to gather together indoors, get cozy and do enjoyable wintry activities. I'm looking forward to lots more of that this holiday season.

19 December 2011

5 Kitchen Tools I Love In Multiples

images via anthropologie

Hello Monday. It's a happier Monday than usual because it's the week of Christmas, parties are winding down and now it's time to get cozy with loved ones and make the most of the holiday. It's baking time, gift wrapping time -- or for a lot of men I know, it's time to hit the mall. I always laughed working retail when on Christmas Eve the only people in the mall were guys, sometimes with a kid or two in tow. Good luck guys, I know how hard we seem to be to shop for.

I have been in the kitchen a lot the past few days. I had a lot of quality time with my kitchenware and I am reminded again about a few tools I have in multiples that making baking and cooking so much easier. Here's a quick list.

1) Measuring Cups and Spoons -- If you only have one set these are a pain to keep rewashing as you measure a variety of ingredients for one recipe. I have three sets of each and on a busy cooking or baking day have been known to use all three.

2) Liquid Measuring Cups -- Once you've measured oil in one of these, if you need to reuse it, add a clean-up process that derails your baking time. It's nice to have varying sizes too.

3) Rubber Scrappers -- A variety of sizes and shapes makes cleaning out any container a snap.

4) Spatulas -- Every type of spatula has it's best use scenario. Stiff ones are better for turning things like grilled cheese or pancakes or taking cookies off a pan. A bendable spatula is excellent for making a perfect omelet.

5) Wire Whisks -- I can use several of these a day and I don't enjoy hand washing one every time I need it. Because I often use them with egg mixtures I like the sanitizing wash of the dishwasher to make sure they are sterile. So I have all I need and can throw them in the dishwasher when used.

What tools do you love and use in multiples? I'd love to hear. I love all I learn from you. Hope you are having a lovely and peaceful start to your week. Happy Monday.

16 December 2011

Quick Glitter Card Box Garland

Last night I whipped up a triple batch of The Man's favorite chocolate chip cookie dough, gingerbread and sugar cookie dough and popped it all in the freezer. Sometime in the next few days we'll do some baking and take treats to friends around the city. I also did some laundry and wrapped some gifts. Things are looking pretty pulled together around here.

I was looking at some wedding blogs and magazines this week that had all sorts of card boxes where guests can place cards and enveloped gifts. There are so many really creative, colorful, very vintage-y options out there, lots of vintage suitcases and birdcages. But I was thinking about trying something a little simpler.

So I experimented with making a quick cards garland to string across the lid of this wicker box from Thailand using Martha Stewart glitter. You may remember I won a large collection of glitter from Martha last year. So I have to give the lovely people at Martha Stewart a big thank you.

 Since there is definitely going to be a woven materials vibe going with the wedding, I thought this box I got years ago on a business trip to Thailand would be perfect - and free. I'm learning that every little penny counts when trying to keep a handle on a budget you have set for yourself. Speaking of budget, this entire project was free- everything used I already had.

First I used some scrapbooking punch-out block letters. I chose green since I wanted green to be the base color for the letters. I used thick craft glue and a paint brush to cover the surface of each letter with glue. Then I sprinkled glitter liberally all over the letters. Once they was dry, I shook off each letter, then painted the letters again with glue and added another layer of glitter on top. In the end I had three layers of glitter. I think I could have done more.

Using a paper cutter, I cut up a sheet of heavy watercolor paper into strips that were about two inches by four inches. Next I punched two holes across the top of each rectangle for the ribbon or cord to thread through. I glued each letter onto a rectangle piece of watercolor paper. I glued them about one-third the distance from the top, so that I had room to cut the pointed edges along the bottom and still have a nice border below each letter.

Then I snipped the bottom corners at 45-degree angles to get the point corners. You can measure this if you are more comfortable having a firm mark to aim for on each cut. The final step was to thread a piece of cord through each letter. The biggest trick is to try not to touch the glitter because it will damage it. You can always go back and do easy repairs with more glue and glitter if you need to.

You could also add more pizzazz to these by gluing these flags onto a pretty patterned paper that is slightly larger. Then trim it so it's about 1/4" larger than the white flag all the way around for a sassy border.

The final step is to clean glitter up from every surface of your home, your hair and your face for the next ten days. Then you're done. Haa, I kid, I kid. But seriously beautiful, fine, powdery, glistening glitter like I used gets everywhere. I had it behind my ear, in my hair and all over in my pajamas yesterday morning when I woke up. Anticipate a bit of a mess. I was being super careful and tidy in my work, so you can imagine how much worse it can get.

This was a super easy project and one anyone can do. I might keep experimenting with a little more color as a background pattern before I make a final decision. Small garlands like this can be used in so many ways to make informing others of helpful information or directions or making bold statements like "EAT CAKE!" both creative and fun. Try whipping one up today. Bet you have everything you need right in your supply cupboard.

images by kalanicut

Water: An Emergency Essential

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Hap-Hap-Happy Friday! I'm guessing you have a lot going on this weekend??? Yesterday I got busy cleaning the house from top to bottom, then did a massive grocery shop. Wow. I am really surprised by how expensive food is getting in California.

Once I walked out of the grocery store I saw a trail of three police helicopters crossing the city overhead -- that can't be good. Then I looked around my neighborhood in the complete gridlock that often takes over from late afternoon to mid-evening, the blaring horns and angry drivers. These are not people I want to be dealing with in an emergency, particularly in a shortage situation. Yesterday a major freeway, that we drive often, had a tanker explosion fire that left people stranded on the freeway for hours here in Los Angeles. Just last night on the phone The Man asked me how my emergency water supply was at my house.

All these things reminded me, as I walked out through the parking lot to my car that I needed to get a new supply of emergency water for my home. I found my 2-gallon jugs had started to slowly leak so I used them to water all the plants a couple of weeks ago. I marched right back into the store and bought ten gallons of emergency water. That along with the pitchers of water and water bottles I keep filled at home ought to be enough to last at least a few days in an emergency.

The very interesting part about emergencies is that they seldom happen at a convenient time. A normal day begins and then suddenly something happens and everything changes instantly. Here are a few questions to ask yourself about your own preparedness:

1) Are you prepared at home with food, water, medicine, fuel and light and temporary shelter to get you through a few days?

2) Do you have a 72-hour kit in your home for each member of your household including pets?

3) Do you have a 72-hour kit in your car? Blankets, toilet paper, food, water and other essentials you might need if you were stranded on a road somewhere?

4) Do you have a 72-hour kit at your office? You're there a lot and could be there when an emergency strikes. You don't want to spend the night fighting over the junk in the vending machine with everyone in your building. Do you have comfortable shoes and even a spare set of clothing stored there that you could walk home in if necessary?

5) Do you have a family preparedness plan? Where will you meet if you are at work, your spouse is at work and your kids are at school? Who can help you if you are unable to get to your children? Do you have phone numbers easily accessible?

6) Do you have an emergency phone list and plan for who you will contact to let them know you are okay? In an emergency phone lines are often tied up and you won't have a lot of phone time. Calling one person who is out of the area who can call the rest of your family for you can help relieve a lot of stress for everyone.

Here is a link to a post filled with helpful information and other links that can help you be prepared in an emergency. You don't want to be the family fighting over the last loaf of bread at the store once something bad happens. By doing everything you can to ensure you are safe and well in an emergency you will reduce the drain on emergency services supplies and personnel and put yourself in a position to help others instead.

And in case you are still looking for gift ideas, 72-hour kits and emergency supplies make fantastic holiday gifts!

15 December 2011

Gearing Up For High Gear Holidays Now

It's a busy day today. The Man and The Bug arrive tomorrow and the holidays will suddenly go from very sedate and solitary to very high-gear. I am tidying up the remnants of decorating and the mantle is coming along - you may recognize the lanterns added on the side, ha. Since this photo I've added pine cones to soften things up a bit. I need to tidy up that cord on the right side and get the little table on the left cleaned up and decorated.

Admission required here that the blackboard text is "photoshopped." Why, because gosh darn it, even though I just saw a full box of chalk last week somewhere in this house and I have another box somewhere, of course I can't find either of them this week. Why does this happen?

I stopped and bought a couple of bags of flour today for holiday baking. I am hoping to have gingerbread and sugar cookie dough in the freezer by tonight for baking and decorating in the next few days. Here's what we did last year.

I have some not terribly fun cleaning to do...bathroom is least exciting of that. Blugh. I am also looking for a spot to store a bunch of wicker lanterns from my shopping extravaganza yesterday...this will be a trick. I was able to pack them in five big paper shopping bags, so hopefully they will be out of sight soon.

Today sounds to be exciting, right? I'm laughing. Ah, the magic of the holidays! Hope you are enjoying your holiday days. They go by so fast. Here's a view of the mantle magic at night. It really is so lovely to have some lights twinkling in the house during dark winter nights.

images by kalanicut

14 December 2011

Interrupting Christmas For Wedding Decor

Last night I went to do some Christmas shopping and ran into a bit of a snag. Found a bunch of lanterns that would be so perfect for the wedding table decorations. These two big lanterns I keep imagining at the guest book table which would be the first thing people see when they turn the corner from the path into the venue.

I had planned to go with metal lanterns or white lanterns but when I saw all these lanterns together I felt myself making a decision. I also found nine of these lanterns below that I imagine on the long rectangle tables. As much as I like them, now I'm thinking I don't have enough to do what I envisioned because I would probably need at least two per table. I actually do have 4 sets that match, but then that only covers 4 tables. Even if I did just one per table and then added some other options that would still only cover 9 tables. So I have some thinking to do.

I found these at TJMaxx and I ran to three other nearby HomeGoods stores hoping to find more but had no luck. On a lark, tomorrow I am going to run to a few TJMaxx shops around town and see if they have any more of these.

These just have so much more charm than the very simple metal ones I had been looking at that actually cost more than these. So we'll see what happens with these. From a budget perspective I wish these beauties would've found me after Christmas, but you can never know when some great find will find you. 

images by kalanicut

13 December 2011

10 Quick Tips To Stay Healthy This Winter

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I've already heard the little whispers of colds and flus this winter around the blogosphere. Because I was hospitalized with a potentially fatal infection last year that all started out as a nasty little flu bug, I'm doing all I can to stay as healthy as possible during this "giving season", the season of germ spreading.

The best offense to staying healthy is a good defense. Keep your immune system strong. I honestly don't need to tell you this, but you may have put things on the back burner while overly busy during the holidays, right? Remember how many people get sick during January. Do what you can to avoid being one of them! A little experimentation will help you find the things that work best for you. Here's a list of a few things I'm doing that you might try:

1) Get enough sleep. Make it a priority. All that stuff that keeps you busy & up at night generally isn't as important as you think it is. You'll be healthier and in a better mood.

2) Eat well. Make sure to keep up the healthy eating in the colder weather months. There are so many great leafy greens to enjoy at this time of year. It's hard to overdo it with the healthy vegetables, try!

3) Think about vitamins and minerals. One year I was very religious about making sure I took a small vitamin C supplement every day and I did not get any respiratory ailments that year. That has never happened before or since. You might try taking a daily multi-vitamin. I like to sprinkle some powdered Vitamin C in orange juice in the morning and stir well.

4) Spice things up. Eat lots of fresh garlic, cayenne pepper & ginger. They are considered super foods that heal the body. I like fresh grated ginger, a couple of shakes of cayenne pepper and a few squeezes of fresh lemon juice in a glass of lemonade for a healthy kick. I sneak garlic into everything I can.

5) Drink plenty, plenty, plenty of water. It hydrates the body, but also cleanses the body and removes toxins.

6) Exercise. Even if it's cold with proper attire you can enjoy the great outdoors. Exercise helps keep muscles and bones strong and works out your respiratory system to keep it strong too. I believe you can chase a lot of stuff out with some good sweat-producing exercise.

7) Make time to get some sunshine on your cheeks. This is for mental health purposes mainly, but it surely helps the spirits too. And we all know that mental health is a huge key to physical health. The body follows the mind's lead.

8) Keep a humidifier going in your house. Cool mist is great for the sinuses. If you do get sick a humidifier near the bed will help to breath more freely all night long. Humidifiers in winter are also fantastic for your skin.

9) Give your home a dose of eucalyptus. You can put branches in your shower or use a little eucalyptus oil in a diffuser. It will help you keep your sinuses clear and healthy. You know that smell in your chest rub goo? It's eucalyptus.

10) Use germ-killing mouthwash and saline nasal spray every day. Germs love your mouth, your throat and your nasal passages. Daily saline use will keep things from growing in your sinuses and a good strong mouthwash will kill lots of stuff that wants to multiply in your mouth. I swear by this plan as do friends of mine.

Hope you stay healthy and well this winter and all throughout the year. Take good care of yourself! And then even if you do get a little bug it won't be nearly as severe because you'll have a strong body fighting back. Stay strong, people!

12 December 2011

Martha Stewart Glitter Train For My Table

A few weeks ago at TJMaxx I found a little Martha Stewart paper kit called the Glitter Train Station. Normally I wouldn't get too excited about a paper village, but knowing it was Martha I had a feeling it would be pretty charming.

I was even more excited when I saw that it came with the glue and the faux snow glitter. Fabulous. After I brought it home I kept thinking it would be so lovely on my dining table. My only challenge was that I did not want to put all that glitter right on the table. Certainly it would be a complete messy disaster within days, no hope it would last through the holidays that way. So I decided to put the little village in a tray so if necessary I could move it off the table and it would be much easier to clean up after Christmas.

Because I used a tray the train tracks were limited and I ended up not using a few pieces of track, but I like how it looks in this earthy tray that is mirrored in the bottom.  All the sparkly glitter just brings the magic. Simple and sweet.

images by kalanicut

Christmas Decorations In Progress

Happy Monday. Hope you're enjoying the best of the season. I had a big party to help with on Saturday night and now I'm pretty free to just enjoy the holidays. I do have one little problem though....Could getting my decorations finished be dragged out any longer??? Probably not. But I'm determined to get things in place finally this week.

I've lost my greenery for the mantle. Obviously I stored it away somewhere last year and now it's nowhere to be seen. I don't have that big of an apartment and not that much in storage so it's pretty hard to figure out where it could've gone. I may just go buy new. In theory I'm pretty committed to using fresh greenery, but my practical side has given in to faux greenery. Sorry fellow naturalists. I will be bringing in some fresh greenery to mix in. Once I have some greenery in the house I'll make final decisions on the mantle and pretty that baby up including adding a new phrase to the big blackboard.

I whipped up some simple decor for the tables. You can see my paper train station that is the centerpiece for my dining table here later today. For the coffee table in the living room I used our favorite jars of shells and sea glass and simple added some ornaments to the heads and added a couple of candles on the side.

Things are starting to come together. My other task for the next couple of days is to mail Christmas cards. It may come as a shock to you that I decided not to make my own cards this year. Oh the horror, right?! I figured since I am working on pulling together DIY invitations for a certain upcoming wedding, that it's just not necessary to take on too much and try to make cards. So I bought some pretty cards and will pop a little personal note with photos into them and ship them off to dear friends and family near and far.

In the next week I will have a few new holiday decorations and projects to come. Baking is yet to come and I can't wait to pull out the mixer and cookie cutters for sugar cookies and gingerbread. I'm pulling together the holiday look, have been playing the holiday sounds around the house and in the car. Now it's time to bring in the scents of the holiday. Can't wait.

images by kalanicut

09 December 2011

The Shiny City Tour - Los Angeles

I went into the city today, to "downtown." I have been doing creative projects for the holidays, writing and taking any opportunity that has come my way to do service this holiday season. I felt I could use a change of scenery for the day. So as soon as I finished up my morning rituals I took off with my camera.

I basically did a big circle around the downtown area, stopping at a few favorite warehouse haunts and taking photos whenever I saw something interesting.  Being stopped in traffic now and then was not such a bad thing when it afforded me some unique views of the city.

I drove through some gritty areas. At one point I decided not take my usual freeway route but instead be adventurous and try the city streets in the general direction of my next destination. I had no idea where I was going, but it was great to find my way. I had to circle a block or two a few times but in not long I found my way.

I loved pushing my instinct to figure out neighborhoods I had never seen before by using the hillsides and other landmarks to get me there. I drove by instinct and I was actually dead on about the street I needed to be on, but questioned myself and instead ended up going further and cutting back. But I did it which was great and I learned the basic layout of a new part of the city.

I drove past some of the oldest buildings in the city, some of the most historic neighborhoods and restaurants -- Lincoln Heights, China Town, Olvera Street and more. The sky was amazingly blue today. By photographing the city sky scapes I got a sense for the light that is unique to Los Angeles and felt a refreshed connection to the city. It's always such a great reminder to go out of your regular routine in your own city and appreciate all the history and all there is to see and do right around you.

So that's a little tour of my shiny city and a challenge to you to get out and see your city and shake up your daily view in more ways that just visually. As I drove around today I was reminded of how very blessed we are and how very blessed I am. That may be the greatest gift of getting outside of of one's normal routine. You see everything with fresh eyes and appreciation.

images by kalanicut

08 December 2011

Great Gifts - Banana Republic Accessories

images via banana republic

I knew after finding a lot of tops and bottoms I liked this season at Banana Republic, that there was more to mine there. Over the past few years I have been very impressed with design and colors of Banana Republic's bags, shoes, scarves and jewelry.

After a long, leisurely wander, I had a big smile on my face to find a lovely variety of classic and charming accessories that would style up so many different looks so effortlessly. Here are a few of my favorites. Check these items out up close. The details and quality are even more impressive, especially on the handbags. 

Banana Republic is such a great go-to spot for quality, girly basics for work, nights out and casual. And they are having some good sales lately too. Everything I've ever purchased from Banana Republic lasted me several seasons or more.

In the new economy we find ourselves in I'm really sold on buying a few quality basics that last rather than impulse buying a lot of cheap items that last perhaps only a few wears before they fall apart. I'll definitely be doing some BR shopping this holiday season and not just for others.

07 December 2011

Holiday Delights

image via

Today I thought I would share with you some favorite things I've seen around the gorgeous blog world this week. So many great inspirations and beautiful images to see.

It's the perfect time to hang a Pelmet Box. Here's Kara's pretty kitchen addition & fun candy idea.

I love Leslie's fur vest. So many of these out these, but quality and materials vary widely. This is a good one!

Two pretty mantle's to share. Love Jen's gorgeous display here. Linda's is amazing too. See it here. Love her ruffled trees.

There are a whole lotta gorgeous holiday decorations to enjoy at the Holiday Home Link Up party.

I want to try this fun idea from DesignMom for Sharpie Dyed Clothing.

Easy handmade ice cream cone ornaments. The talented Jessica Jones of How About Orange does it again.

Hope you enjoy this this holiday smorgasbord. Wishing you a happy Wednesday. I'm off to a help with a holiday party later today. Should be fun. But that's not before I do a few super fun rounds of laundry. Sweet! Just kidding, not that much fun. But later tonight will be. Hope you're enjoying your holiday season.

06 December 2011

Handmade Gift Exchange Received

Are you feeling the holiday spirit now? I have had some moments over the past few days of deep joy in the magic of this month. It was been fun to share that with friends and family.

Very late Friday night I decided to pop by and check the mail. I have a very small box and it's always a surprise to find a packaged tucked inside it. When I opened the box I found a happy arrival from my Handmade Gift Exchange partner, Staci from Just Sew Sassy.

A brown scarf was right up my alley and the gathered element was a good update to my usual scarf wearing. A scarf was a perfect gift for a girl who wears one around her neck at least half the year. In a humid climate, there is nothing better than a little something cozy to keep the neck covered and warm.

I love the warm hue of the lovely hair clips. Such a great color! So girly and fun. Will be a nice addition to spice up some curls, buns and ponytails. I love having new inspiration to spice up the look. Always need that, it's so easy to get into ruts with the same old accessories all the time.

To see more of Staci's pretty designs, check out her Etsy shop Maddie Mae Lane. With her shop partner, she creates a beautiful collection of scarves, jewelry and hair accessories. Best of all I love the flower sashes. You will definitely want to check out Staci's blog Just So Sassy too. It is full of fantastic, crafty, creative ideas. There is a LOT to enjoy and get inspired by - I definitely have to brag up her talents.

Thanks Staci for a fun holiday surprise. And a big thanks to Linda Gardner of Craftaholics Anonymous for again organizing the Handmade Gift Exchange. You can see a Link Up party of all the creations made for the holiday exchange here. Linda's blog is full of great creative projects. I am really liking her ruffled Christmas trees on her holiday mantle.

Lastly, see what I sent to Staci here. I have really enjoyed participating in gift exchanges and making friends around the world. It's so fun to put something pretty together and always a surprise to see what will come your way.

05 December 2011

Decorating For Christmas

Good morning, Monday. I hope you lovely friends had a happy first weekend of December. I am having a bit of an unusual holiday season this year. Unusual schedules have left me with a lot of time alone, which is quite unusual for me these days. So I've been slowly pulling all the holiday decorations together, looking forward to merry days with loved ones later in the season.

Last week I finished these two little Christmas trees that I started last year. I finished up the wool wrap on the trees, made small decorations out of paper and then added the moss around the base of the pots. Last year I bought the pots, found the sticks, made the plaster of Paris to fill the bases and got the fabric pinned on. It was nice to finish these up. I pinned the decorations on so I can change up these trees at my whim.

Yesterday The Bug and I made foam snowmen from a small kit I purchased before Thanksgiving. These were one of the hardest crafts I have made in a while due to all the gluing and them falling over again and again while we waited for the glue to dry. Glue gun might've made these a lot easier. I would definitely rethink my adhesive options on these for the future. Love the scarves, ear muffs and carrot noses.

I bought these glitter stars at Target before Thanksgiving thinking they would be pretty somewhere. Last night I hung five of them from the ceiling along the front of the large sliding glass door in front of my balcony. I was so charmed that they twirl and glitter in the light and make things quite charmingly holiday-ish. A simple little addition that really made things sparkle.

I have shiny baubles to add around and I think this year I will get a big tree for the first time in all the years I've lived in California. I'm in the mood and it sounds so lovely. Imagining coming home to the scent of a real Christmas tree sounds quite magical.

Hopefully in the next day or two I'll have the house decorated. Then I have two holiday parties I'm helping with this week. Should make for an adventurous week. Hope you are enjoying  your holiday season. Sending you my best wishes for a beautiful December.

images by kalanicut

02 December 2011

Handmade Gift Exchange

The holiday projects have begun in earnest in my house now. I'll be sharing those in the coming days. Things are slowly but surely looking more and more holiday festive.

I was very happy to participate in the Handmade Gift Exchange for a second time this year. It's a great challenge to volunteer to make something smashing to send away to a complete stranger. It sounds great until that moment when you rethink all your ideas and wonder if any of them will work. Then there's the moment when you complete your gift and start to wonder if it's completely lame. Then you just have to buck up and put it in the mail anyway.

Due to an unexpectedly busy November, I didn't have a chance to focus on my gift until this week, so I've been scrambling to get things done. Last week I spent more than two hours wandering around the fabric store trying to pull ideas together and hitting wall after wall. In the end I decided to make a little holiday pillow and garland. It's all in the mail on it's way to my trade partner.

You can find out more about the Handmade Gift Exchange by clicking on the link. You can also see what other crafters have made for the holiday exchange. To what I made for the previous gift exchange right click here and see what I received from my partner in Australia. I've decided it's fun to have a few extra surprises during the holidays. I am looking forward to receive the package sent to me today too. The Handmade Gift Exchange is a great way to add a little extra fun to the holiday season.

images by kalanicut

01 December 2011

Etsy Roundup Best of Nativity Scenes

Happy first day of December. Tonight I am looking forward to attending a community Christmas event and hearing the Bell Canto Ringers bell choir perform. I am so happy to kick off December with something so very festive. I am working on decorations around the house. Last year I had it all done on Thanksgiving weekend, but this year is coming together a little bit slower.

One of my dear sisters collects nativity scenes from around the world and over they years I have given her a couple and been with her when she has purchased several more. Whenever I see holiday catalogs with nativity scenes I always find several I dream of gifting to her. So this post is dedicated to her for her love of nativity scenes.

Here's a roundup of my favorite nativity scenes available from www.etsy.com.

1. Japanese Washi Nativity from Koi Noburi
2. Felted Wool Sheep from The Mermaids Muse
3. Nativity Adoration from Avtra (Steven S.)
4. Felted Wool Nativity from Daria Lvovsky

5. Primitive Nativity from Kenamakee (Amanda Malnar)
6. Keepsake Felted Wool Nativity from All 4 Fiber Art (Pamela Mattison)
7. Pallet Nativity from Claus Creations (Matt and Angie Claus)

8. Standing Wood Nativity from Avtra (Steven S.)
9. Nativity Deluxe from Mama Made This

10. Needle Felted Wool Nativity from Daria Lvovsky
11. Vinyl Cutout Nativity from Creations By Heidi
12. Paper Quilled Nativity from Cards By Cheryl
13. Metal Nativity Scene from SRiley24 (Sarah Riley)

14. Primitive Pillow Nativity from Pillow Happy (Shell)

Hope you've enjoyed this nativity roundup. Etsy is full of great creations to spruce up the home for the season. Support small handmade artists by shopping at Etsy this season.

Wishing you a happy Thursday.

30 November 2011

Thankful November Day 30

Last day of November and the end of Thankful November. It flew by. This has been a great exercise for me to really think about my blessings. Hope you've had a month full of gratitude and love.

Today I am thankful for the holidays. I am thankful that they bring us together as family, friends and sometimes even strangers. I have so enjoyed making plans with family and friends and always enjoy having fun things to look forward to.

It's a great time of year to enjoy concerts, holiday plays, seasonal parades and lights and all the activities of the season. It seems in December you can have your pick of several wonderful events to choose from every night. We are planning a fun holiday calendar and looking forward to time with family and friends.

image via

Beautiful Winter Wear From Banana Republic

Banana Republic has put together a great holiday clothing collection and with each look they break down all the  elements to make it easy to create your own look. The BR website is looking really great this season - I am inspired.

Here are four of my favorite looks:

1. Long Tan Sweater - love the stripes, overdyed jeans and cozy long sweater. All great pieces that go with practically everything in one's closet.

2. Red Jacket with Sangria Scarf - love the warm, bold colors.

3. Double-breasted Pea Coat - So classic, so versatile. Looks so pulled together with such ease and simplicity.

4. Casual Cowl with Khaki Cords - So relaxed and ready for fun. Love the red bands of color peeking out.

For winter it's important to be warm, but that doesn't mean you can't look smashing at the same time. A little extra attention to your wardrobe choices can keep you from looking bundled and bulky and take you right to hot AND cozy.

images via Banana Republic

29 November 2011

Thankful November Day 29

Wow, it's the second to last day of Thankful November already. Can't believe that. Today I am thankful for dreams, the kind that inspire you to believe is all you can be and in the ideas that are bouncing around in your head. I love dreaming, I love working toward my dreams and seeing them come true. I really love watching other people work for and see their dreams come to fruition. That inspires me endlessly.

Hope you see your dreams coming to fruition today. It's the holiday season and a new year is coming. There's no better time to dream than at this magical time of year.

image via

28 November 2011

Etsy Roundup - Best of Christmas Wreaths

Thought I would share with you a roundup of favorite wreaths available this lovely holiday season from Etsy. I love the very simple and natural greenery, pine cones and fruit and also have a soft spot for the shiny, tinseled and modern. A well done wreath can be such a welcoming addition to a front entry. Hope these will inspire you to make your front door gorgeous and inviting this year. You can find all these wreaths handmade at Etsy.
1. Magnolia Wreath from Elegant Holidays (Shannon Harris)
2. Bird & Birdhouse Wreath from Noel Belles Deux (Mary Ellen)
3. Aqua Ice Wreath from J. Potter Blooms
4. Sugar Land Wreath from The Chickadee Shop (Melissa Clark)
5. Glittered Fruit & Greens Wreath from English Rose Designs
6. Teal Green Wreath from Pamela Joyce Design
7. Green Ribbon Wreath from My Garden Gate
8. Joy Wreath from Privileged Door

And a few more....

9. Mistletoe Wreath from Baby Bird Crafts
10. Square Boxwood Wreath from NH Woods Creations (Allison)
11. Square Berries & Pine Cones Wreath by Elegant Holidays (Shannon Harris)
12. Green and Gold Wreath from Decord Esprit

I'll be back later today with Thankful November Day 29. Hope you're having a beautiful Tuesday. As always, thank you so much for coming by. Sending you warmest wishes.

all images via Etsy

Thankful November Day 28

image via

After a very, very busy November today is MY day. No people, no noise, no obligations, deadlines or "must dos" today. I was up late last night but then slept until a ridiculously late hour today. Heaven, heaven, heaven. 

Knowing I don't have to do anything I don't feel like doing today is making me quite happy. Today I am thankful for R-E-S-T.  Taking time for rest during the holidays can have a serious impact on your health and well-being for the season and beyond. I am so glad I have some down time factored into this holiday season. Hope you have a very happy Monday.

27 November 2011

Thankful November Day 27

How can I not be thankful for gorgeous 85 degree weather on Thanksgiving weekend? While it's a little weird to think about decorating for Christmas in this kind of weather, I am not complaining while wearing a tee shirt, skirt and sandals.

Thankful November Day 26

image via

Today I'm thankful for weekends with no alarm clocks. Ah. Staying up late with people you love is much more fun that way.

25 November 2011

Thankful November Day 25

The weekend celebrations continue. Day Two of Thanksgiving, the leftovers. Almost better than the actual meal on Thanksgiving Day. Today I'm thankful for the people who really matter. Immediate family. Extended family. And now a new second family. What is more important in life? I'll drop everything and run, any time, any day, any place for these people.

24 November 2011

Thankful November Day 24

image via

Happy Thanksgiving U.S. readers! Hope it's a lovely day for you wherever you are! As I write this post I am hearing Tevya from Fiddler On The Roof singing, "TRAH-DI-SHUN, TRADITION!" That's what I am thankful for today -- Tradition. Can you imagine doing something one day to celebrate life with a small group of neighbors that would be carried on as a tradition for centuries to come? Don't you think the Pilgrims are a little surprised that we are still celebrating Thanksgiving here in the United States and possibly sad that it's become a day of remembrance that is often overshadowed by commercialism and football games.

Traditions are great, they are important and they make life rich. They set expectations, encourage thoughtfulness and cause us to pause from our busy lives in recognition. We have been entrusted to carry on many traditions within our families, towns, religious groups and homelands. Today I am thinking about the traditions I value and keep. I'm asking myself if I do them justice and give them their due respect.

It's so easy to become lazy about honoring tradition. What is my responsibility to pass on those traditions in an honorable and noble way? Thinking about that and what changes I can make in my life to live with more respect and honor for  the traditions I value.

23 November 2011

Thankful November Day 23

Today I am thankful for the printed word, to be able to read and for all the people who make such pretty publications. There is nothing that inspires me much more than a magazine full of pretty pictures and smart words. I'll be taking time to lounge and look at many magazines this weekend. Yum.

22 November 2011

Thankful November Day 22

Today I am thankful for creative arts and how they make life more enjoyable. There's little that clears my head and calms my soul like a little creative project. I have found in recent months that I just crave the opportunity to make something.

Sometimes being able to express oneself by making something unlocks one's ability to find a voice in other areas of life. I love that you can give the same ingredients to 20 different people and in the end come up with 20 unique creations. It's amazing to see the creative eye at work. I am thankful for the opportunity to make things I see in my head come to life and for them to beautiful my surroundings.

Etsy Roundup - 10 Great Christmas Stockings

image via Etsy

It's time for a consolidated effort for holiday stockings at my house. So far the collection is hodgepodge and I know that one disappeared somewhere in a storage box the year before last. This is the year to get new stockings that we can really cherish. I know I like a good, big round toe stocking - no pointy toes or mini-stockings for me. Here's a little roundup of some favorite holiday stockings from Etsy designers.

Buckland from Toronto, Canada makes this charming stocking (above) and a variety of others that can be personalized. I love the silver moon best of all the creatures. The polar bear is definitely a close second. I like the lovely, simple, woodsy shapes. These stockings are made from suede and clearly built to last for generations.

My more elegant side likes the beading on this Silver Tree and Snowflakes stocking by The Golden Turtle.

image via Etsy

I love the contrasts in these two stockings and I like so many of the stockings made by Bebe Snickelfritz. I love the blue gray with the red and the textures together.

image via Etsy

I love felted wool and simple silhouette shapes so this stocking of course totally grabs my eye. I love the earthy materials and subject. This totally appeals to my simplest design nature. Made by EcoShop in Northern California, this Woodland Reindeer stocking is a favorite for sure.

image via Etsy

These applique birds are so beautiful. In a Scandinavian style these stockings in blue and white and red and green are hand embroidered and made in England by Modern and Vintage.

iamge via Etsy

My bold, modern side goes a little gaga for these bright, geometric patterns. How can I say no to orange and green, two colors that I am very wrapped up in right now. These stockings by Studio Tree are so much fun. Studio Tree also makes some great pillows, iPad cases and more.

image via Etsy

And to round out the collection for today I couldn't pass up on this simple and so chic stocking by the well known Paloma's Nest. Love the grommet detail and the gorgeous wood tile and ribbon personalized nameplate on the front. A good eye and great craftsmanship can take such simple materials and make them so off the charts gorgeous.

image via Etsy

So that's the big Etsy Christmas Stocking Roundup for today. I hope you found some inspiration for your mantle. Many of these sellers are offering free shipping or other special offers if purchased by Dec 1. If you're looking for smart looking new stockings for your mantle that represent your family style and personality, check out the wonderful Etsy designers for great prices and creativity.

I know many of you are traveling this week. I want to take this opportunity to wish you safe travels. Hope your time on the road or in the air is peaceful, enjoyable and trouble free. Thinking of you and sending you warm wishes for the holiday week in the US and for a wonderful week wherever you may be.
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