25 December 2012

Merry Christmas 2012

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Hello dear friends. Wishing you a very happy and joyful holiday. It has been a fantastic one for us. It has been lovely to be with The Man and The Bug and see all my immediate family in the past four days. We are in the mountains and it is snowy and beautiful and cold.

We enjoyed a beautiful sunset this evening from the parents' backyard as the sun colored the clouds and outlined all the bare tree branches. So lovely. We also took The Bug on a tour on her new snow tube. Wearing "puffy pants" did not go over well with her and we've actually spent two days trying to teach this California girl that you have to wear snow pants outside in the snow.

She was also a bit shocked to remember that snow is very cold and you don't want to put your bare hand in it. She was not very happy when she got snow in her face while tubing. She did not like that one bit. But after getting used to things for a few minutes she was running with the best of them in her puffy pants and rosy cold cheeks, up the small hill onto her tube and down again and again.

Tomorrow we adventure out on her first day of skiing. Not sure at all how that's going to go, but we're hopeful she'll take to it with gusto. I find the first 20 minutes of anything new can be a bit tricky but she's an "adventure girl" through and through and once she gets the hang of it, you can't stop her. So I hope that will be the same with skiing too. Fingers crossed we aren't buying three all day passes and then leaving early.

We are having a great holiday and trying to make the most of it. That sure leaves us tired at the end of the day but this is a holiday we will remember. Hope that you and yours are enjoying the best of the season and the goodwill of all mankind. Warmest wishes, K

20 December 2012

What To Wear For Family Photos

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We've made plans this year to finally have a family photo taken. Sounds fine and dandy until I start trying to organize what we're going to wear that will give that just right look of not trying too hard, not matching too much, but looking like we go together and have some semblance of style.

Sadly enough I quickly pulled together multiple outfit combos for The Bug and The Man. The Bug is too easy. Her wardrobe is my dream wardrobe I would want right now. Why is it so much easier to find completely charming clothes in the kids department than the grown up girls department? So frustrating. I think I could come up with ten totally darling, fun, funky outfits for her.

The Man, a couple of years ago was determined to get a new wardrobe for work purposes. Well he scored on so much great stuff and if he found a pair of pants he liked he went back and bought three more pairs of them in other colors, same with shirts. Then we got lucky and found him some fantastic sweaters.. So he has the perfect wardrobe of basics with unending cool combinations of pieces. It was easy to pull that together too.

Then there's me. Do I wear a skirt and boots, pants...what? I have shopped myself silly and tried on tons of things and don't see a lot that I really like in the stores. I was open minded, I tried a broad range of options. And sadly, I have to say I think the state of women's fashion is a little big pitiful right now. Since the economic downturn the quality of many goods has had to go way downhill in order to lower prices and keep up margins. It also doesn't help that I'm tall and waistbands are popular in shirts these days. Every waistband or waist high bottom hemline is two or three inches to high for me. Things look silly.

So I thought I would do some digging and look for inspiration around the blogosphere. I know there are some great tutorials from other bloggers on how to pull off great family photos. Thought you might enjoy seeing these links so the next time you face the cameras it will be as stress free as possible.

Look Better In Photos
Clothing Suggestions
Family Photo Examples
Design Mom's Tips
What To Wear For Family Photos

I'm still trying to decide if we start from a base color of black/gray or brown. The Man and The Bug have a ton of great brown options, I don't. I have mostly black and gray. So I still have some work to do.Wish me well. I am the problem one here. Ha. Ha.

19 December 2012

The Holidays Celebrations Have Begun

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Our very happy holiday has begun. The Bug arrived last night. Now we scramble until everything is ready for a visit from The Man. The excitement around here is a little too insane. I doubt we will ever be more excited for the holidays than we are this year. That first moment we are all reunited is going to be off the charts insane.

Holiday shopping is done. Grocery shopping for the week happened last night. The Bug of course wanted to get a kid cart. I didn't realize how tiny those things are. Guess who ended up pushing it for the last ten minutes. Great for the back...and one's coolness factor..not so great for produce, chips & bread or anything that can get smooshed. Ha. Cleaning house needs to happen next. (That's not a fun part of Christmas... booo.) Winter clothes need to be pulled out of their hiding places. Laundry needs to be done. Suitcases packed.

It's so bizarre living in SoCal. The weather is basically about the same the entire year except for the second half of December where we are often in hats, gloves and coats. Then, come New Years it just goes back to normal. It is the weirdest thing. We're in a cold spell right now. I honestly do not own any long sleeve shirts...and I don't have any real sweaters. I have one super warm boiled wool & fleece jacket I wear when it's very cold.

Not sure what I'm planning to wear when we get to the mountains for a visit. I'll probably just wear my new ski jacket the whole time...the new ski jacket I bought today because I didn't have a coat. Ha. Thanks 60% off sale! I also bought The Bug polar fleece thermal pants and The Man is getting new ski pants and ski jacket. Got all this for a steal. So I hope we stay warm.

So it's countdown time to Christmas. For some reason now that I feel responsibility for a household for Christmas it seems I feel a bit of a panic the week before December 25th every year. I guess it's the moment when anything you wanted to make and haven't gotten to is probably not going to happen, when you realize you didn't do ALL those cute little Christmas-y activities you wanted to do. Things start dropping of the To Do list because they just won't get done in time. This year more than ever, I will dump anything that gets in the way of family time....as soon as I clean both cars, get the house cleaned and pack. Are you laughing yet? Sending you warmest wishes for your holiday season. I hope you are doing things you want to do, resting and relaxing and enjoying time with those you love.

18 December 2012

Tragedy Reminds Us To Love More

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As I have thought about this tragedy in Connecticut, I have been so inspired and pleased to see the great outpouring of love, desire to support and love each other that has come from this tragedy. I am so pleased to see the rise of the human spirit to survive, to love and protect one another. What a great gift in tragedy. I am so impressed with the people of Newtown, Connecticut and the world at large for turning this into a time of support and love.

As I hope this love continues to increase throughout Newtown, Connecticut, my country and the world I must think about my role and each of our roles in making this happen. What can we each do to bring greater light to the world. I found myself wanting to be more friendly, more positive, more loving to everyone around me. It was easier to say kind and loving words without shyness, intimidation or embarrassment. I wanted to share more smiles, be more mindful to help strangers and friends around me.

On Friday I was at one of the Navy bases in San Diego. As I was walking up to the doors to one of the very busy buildings, a very handsome, sharply dressed young man in uniform took a moment to step aside hold the door for me with a smile. It instantly put a smile on my face and I felt a moment of deep gratitude that there are young men like this in the world. I thought of the parents and influencers (teachers, neighbors, relatives, friends' parents) who raised this young man to be so aware of others and be so kind. I am grateful for the teachings and examples of these fine people.

As I strive to help my spirit rise above tragedies such as this one, I pray that I and all of us will be more aware and loving to each other, that we will pray for and wish each other well, help each other, serve each other and do all we can to bring more light to the world through our own actions, thoughts and desires.

I hope you will join me in smiling more, being more thoughtful and kind and bringing more light into the world in your home, your neighborhood, city and from there the world. There are many troubled hearts that can be soothed and even healed with our kindness and other's inspired to carry on that spirit. Sending you my smile, my best wishes, my hopes and faith in brighter days.

What Is Really Important In Life

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The holidays, life challenges and the recent tragedy in Connecticut have definitely reminded me of what is most important in life. If you are like me, you might be in need of a little inspiration, good cheer, perspective and hope about now. I thought I would link to some favorite past posts about all the good things in life. Maybe one of two will be just what the doctor ordered for you today.

52 Things Kids Need From A Mom
Living True To My Dreams
The Blessing Of Laughter
Handle With Love

So, my dear friends around the world, I am sending you my warmest wishes this holiday season. This will be a very special one for us. I pray you will have peace, joy and hope for the season and year to come.

17 December 2012

Our Laughable Christmas Tree

Wow, tough few days here in America. Friday listening to the car radio as I drove to and from San Diego, I had to get tissues out to wipe away the tears. While sitting in the car dealership waiting room that afternoon I endured 90 minutes of pictures and more news coverage, while I sat wondering why on earth the parents next to me were allowing their two very small boys to sit and watch the TV. I will confess I wanted to shake those parents by the shoulders a bit.

Saturday it became very painful to learn that these sweet, lost children were first graders. We have a six-year-old first grader who is the light of our lives. That hit very hard on Saturday. God bless those who are suffering great loss at this time and all of us that we might find peace, healing and greater knowledge in His love.

With our little one in mind so very much this week, my post especially puts a smile on my face. I had to share our hilarious Christmas tree situation. Because we are often on the road most of December, we have never gotten a big tree. This makes me a little sad and I promised myself this year that we would get a big tree. Then being here by myself most of December and knowing we'd be traveling again, I just didn't do it. With all the major stuff we have going on this month, taking the time to find a tree just didn't make sense.

So once again we are celebrating using this tiny table top tree. This is the last year we are going to do this, cross my heart. I left most of the ornaments in the box and just focused on the mantle. Most important to me is that we enjoy the holidays and lots of love in the short time we will have together. All the presents are going into a suitcase unwrapped for travel.

At one point the tree, decorated by The Bug was looking pretty good. And then she found all these toilet paper cardboard centers I had saved to see if we might make a craft from them. If you're ever on Pinterest you know that there are a million and one craft ideas out there using toilet paper cardboard. Here's a link to several I just pinned. Then she started playing with all the ornaments. This is how she left it and honestly I haven't wanted to move a thing.

When she arrives tomorrow, we'll straighten things up but for a week now I've just left it with a smile. I'm hoping she'll be fine with dumping the toilet paper rolls. Fingers crossed. I love that we always seem to get a collection of wild animals and other very non-traditional decoration around the tree. On year it was hair rubber bands. I documented that here. Maybe we can get the ornaments back on the tree, pick up the ornament people who are lying all about and restore a little order to our little world. I pray that time together will restore a little order and peace to our hearts too. God bless you all.

14 December 2012

Secret Hideaway Tents From Etsy

I am on the prowl for a kid's tent. When we were young, my sisters and I made tents under the dining table that had an almost floor length tablecloth over it or with blankets over the card table outside on the deck, or with four chairs and blankets draped over the top. We often slept outside in a blanket fort and when we got a little older in a small family tent with mattresses for as many summer nights as our parents would allow.

The Bug has been making forts and enjoys finding little nooks to hide away in with stuffed animals and toys. After discussions with Santa Claus, I am on the prowl to help him find one that will work well in our home. She is tall so I want to make sure she has room to lie down. But we don't have a lot of space and I would like to find something that is easy to put up and take down.

There are a lot of very creative people making very charming tents for children on Etsy. You can check them out here. This green, yellow and orange tent (hello I love the color combo) by Campsite 5 is so cheery and would be so much fun to have set up in a playroom or in the corner of a bedroom. One of these would be a great spot for a reading nook, a hideaway or afternoon nap spot.

I am continuing my search. I think once I nail this down I will be done with Christmas. A couple of updates. My haircut experience was awesome and it turned out great. I am so happy about that. Today I went to my favorite fabric store that has the most knowledgeable staff and worked on options for my far-too short dress. We found a knit fabric that is an exact match with the lining of the dress. Then we found a 14-inch wide lace panel that has pretty edges on top and bottom. Our theory is that we're going to add on the knit fabric to the lining. Then sew the lace panel on top of the existing lace hem of the dress and add an ivory ribbon over the stitching just below the scalloped top edge of the lace. Did that make sense?

I was glad to have lots of opinions and help there. I started getting anxious the longer we looked at it wondering if it would work and what it was really going to look like at the end. The cost of the lace alone was exactly the same as the cost for the dress itself. Now my big question is whether I should attempt it myself or call the professional tailor I know. Big decision. Today I'm leaning towards our tailor because I really don't want to screw this up and to be totally honest I'm too busy right now to want to put any of my energy to this. It's possible it will need to be mostly handsewn which just sounds like craziness right now. I am determined to find a way to machine stitch it all. Wish I had a serger about right now. So I'll have to think about it for a day or two. Time is running out so I don't have a lot of time to goof around about it. I need to make a decision and take action immediately. Agh....what to do...what to do...

13 December 2012

Making Those Short Skirts & Dresses A Little Longer

image via Design & Style

I have a ton to share but am having a hard time wrangling it all at the moment. I have been wanting to share some ideas about how to lengthen the appearance of short dresses and skirts. 

Inspired by current events, which I'll share in a moment, I thought I would blog about that today. I need this project because I am tall. Needless to say most dresses that are in the stores these days are WAY too short for me....or for any person who wants a dress to come to their knees or just below.

So I loved seeing this Extender Slip DIY on Pinterest and followed it over to Design & Style blog to see the entire tutorial. Just looking at this photo I am thinking about all the colors you could make extender slips in that would be so cute beyond white and cream. Shockingly (not) I am thinking how cute orange would be.

Here are links to other great extender slip tutorials.
iCandy Handmade: Check out the leaning over photo. Such a crack up because it's so true!

My one thought on the DIY extender slip is that it can quickly go very wrong. I saw a few online that made me cringe a bit. The fullness or slimness of the skirt needs to match the fullness or slimness of the extender slip. Extender slips are not one size fits all when it comes to looking good under any dress or skirt. You may want to have a couple, one slimmer, one fuller to match up to your wardrobe.

Now another option is to just sew a band of new fabric along the actual hem of the skirt. You can sew thick grossgrain ribbon, two-inch binding, or choose your own color and fabric and just add a hemmed panel at the bottom. My sister is so talented and even taller than me. She has done this several times. She was the source of my first inspiration for adding length to a lovely skirt or dress.

I am headed in this direction very quickly. I have been looking for a dress for an event for a while and had pretty much given up. I was settled that I was going to be wearing a skirt, cardigan and a blouse of some sort. I had purchased the skirt, found the cardigan and put it on hold and was on the prowl for a shirt that would sit well with a fitted cardigan. Then I walked into the Gap Outlet of all places and there right on the front rack was the exact dress I had been imagining in my mind for weeks. There were only two dresses left on the rack and one looked like it would fit even though it wasn't my size.

I tried it on, it was super comfortable and it looked like it was sewn to my exact measurements except for one thing. It is six inches too short. It comes way above my knees and that just won't work. But while I was trying it on, I had this feeling that it was my dress and that I could use my sewing smarts to figure out a way to add 6 inches at the bottom. To make things additionally tricky, it's a lace dress with stretch knit lace and lining. So I'm dealing with three tricky situations, lace, stretch fabrics and double layers. I'm not sure how I'm going to pull this off, but I hope it will be worth it.

I tried the dress on again when I got home and was happy that I had zero buyer's remorse. I think I will take it to the fabric store today, get some advice and see what my options are for trims and fabrics. Fingers crossed I can find just the right thing to make it perfect and maybe even more charming than it already it.

12 December 2012

A Great Experience With A Bra Fitting

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As part of my Personal Makeover Plans, on Monday I went into Nordstrom, got fitted for a bra and in less than 20 minutes I was headed out the door with a fabulously fitting bra. What a great experience. This beats by a long shot heading into a discount retailers mountains of jumbled bras, picking out 8-10 bras in different sizes and going to try them all on. Then having to get dressed and go back out and swap out a bunch of them for another size. This can go on for a good hour, with very little success.

Getting a bra fitting by a trained professional is a fantastic experience. If you have never been professionally sized there is a very good chance you are wearing the wrong size bra. Having "the girls" held high and centered in a properly fitted bra is one of the best ways to improve a figure and look 10 pounds lighter. Fittings at major department stores are free. The bras are a great investment. Two things that a woman should never skimp on: quality undergarments and quality shoes.

It was such a simple and easy experience to get fitted again. After a quick measurement around the rib cage, the lovely girl helping me went out and picked 3 bras while I waited. She also brought in a camisole so that I could see what the bras looked like under a fitted tee shirt. As I tried on each one she adjusted the shoulder straps, back and cups to fit me perfectly. We talked about the varying fit of each and what features most enhanced the girls and made sense for what I wanted.

I also got a great education about taking care of bras. She told me that bra size can change up to four times per year. So it's good to get checked regularly. She also showed me how to properly store bras and how to pack them for travel. Lots of things to think about. For all our bras do for us, we often don't give them the proper attention and care they deserve.

If you haven't enjoyed a bra fitting and the comfort of a properly fitting bra, you deserve to treat yourself. Visit your local Nordstrom, other fine department or lingerie store and invest in the happiness and good looks of a properly fitting bra.

11 December 2012

2012 Personal Makeover Plans In Action

image via Dillards

The 2012 Sabrina is underway. I spent a day shopping with my dear shopping sister. She's a great person to shop with. She doesn't let you get away without making a honest try to look for things to try on. She encourages you to try new things, consider things you don't think would work and has lots of great suggestions. I tried on a lot of things that I initially had no interest in on the hanger. But as I tried to be open minded I was pleasingly surprised to see how regular, intense workouts are paying off. With her help, I tried on a lot of things that I normally wouldn't have even thought about. She was even nice enough to help hang things back on hangers for me. You can read more about shopping with her here.

After several hours of shopping work, we left with this fabulous skirt by Vince Comuto. It is so versatile I will be able to wear it with boots, heels, flats or even sneakers. It looks great, long and lean. I got a great new striped shirt in a pretty peach color that will go great with jeans or my black skirt. And I also got fitted for a new bra and found a lovely new one. I'll share more about that soon. I think a good bra is critical. You can see past posts on that here.

It was a good start to my Sabrina plans. Spending a few hours shopping was a great way to get the ball rolling. It's going to be a lot easier to go shopping on my own now that I spent a day shopping with someone else. Once I got going I started seeing more and more that I was interested in. A few new clothing items also got me thinking more about what I already have in my closet that I can adapt in new ways. I have a lot of great jewelry that I don't wear often enough. I have some great shoes I should wear more often. I just picked up three favorite pairs of shoes from the shoe repair shop up the street. A great investment to extend the life of my shoes. I have lots of options when I think about it. It's quite refreshing to look at everything with new eyes.

Today is the next big step: The Great Haircut. It's going to be a big change. I am nervous but then when I think how much I don't really like my hair right now I have to admit there isn't much to fear. It's going to be a bit of a relief because my hair has gotten so thick that it's a bit uncontrollable. So it will be great to tame the mane. I am so excited about it because I am so ready for something new. A good freshening up will go a long way. I think long bangs may be involved.

I'm also working on some home spa treatments. Whitening the teeth, being very attentive to skin care and moisturizing, and keeping up with the workouts. Getting enough sleep, drinking lots of water, eating healthy, vital food and taking a few nutritional supplements will go a long way to help boost my shine. Looking forward to starting 2013 refreshed and revived.

10 December 2012

Avarcas Sandals: I Need These

images via Avarcas USA

Friday night we had quite a grand adventure. We had unexpected house guests, my sister and her dear friend who is like a sister to us. They appeared in our neighborhood about 10 p.m. and we were thrilled. Needless to say our two house guests and The Bug got playing with all her stuffed animals and it got quite rowdy. Then everyone fell into beds and crashed around midnight.

While I was supposed to be getting my pajamas on I happened to peek at Facebook and found a link to these sandals that would be available at a local neighborhood street market near our home. There was a photo of them that stopped me dead in my tracks. I immediately had an intense need for these sandals. They are perfect Kalani Sandals.

I quickly had to do some investigating and learned they are Avarcas sandals made in Spain. They are so pretty in every picture I have seen and seem to make feet look quite lovely too. You can also get them in animal prints and glitter styles too. Gosh you could probably have several pairs of these and be happy as a clam.

 I think the back strap might drive me a little cuckoo but the ankle strap I love. I know where I am getting next summer's favorite sandals. I would absolutely love a pair of the Mediterranean style and the Classic Style Strap. Perfect for jeans, capris or skirts too.

I realize for many of you it is the dead of winter. So I appreciate you indulging me. Maybe you are going on a nice vacation this winter and could use a pair of these? 

07 December 2012

Receiving The Holiday Spirit

Just a quick hello today. Don't you love these vintage snowman ornaments? They remind me of everything I loved about my grandmother's house and all the magic she created each holiday season. Some lucky duck snagged these off of Etsy just a couple of days ago. They are surely a magical addition to any Christmas home.

Last night I had the chance to go to my dear friends' bell choir concert. They perform a few times every holiday season and every year perform the first week of December at a local holiday celebration. It's a wonderful way to open the holiday season and has become a tradition that I always look forward to. They will perform again in a few weeks and I look forward to seeing their amazing talents one more time.

I have been enjoying all the holiday made-for-TV movies again this year. Might I recommend November Christmas, on the Hallmark Channel. I am sure it won't be hard to find on Hallmark Channel this month or I am sure it's also available on DVD, perhaps through Hallmark itself. Sam Elliott stars and he plays just the very best of men. I've always had a soft spot for his deeply thoughtful, slow-talking way, but he is at his best as Jess Sanford. Watching this movie reminded me of the touching hand of community and the beauty of living a very noble life of service to others. It's a movie that very inspiring and great for all ages. Have a few tissues on hand.

As we close in on a new year and celebrate the true meaning of this season, it's a great time to find a little inspiration to live a more beautiful, loving life. That is a great feeling to have in our hearts as we begin a new year with new aspirations and hopes.  

06 December 2012

Repair Your Own Bags & Luggage

images by kalanicut

A couple of weeks ago I cleaned out the front coat closet storage space. It houses an army of duffle bags and suitcases, along with laundry baskets and a space bag full of winter clothes. Because I had to remove the storage boxes I had in front of my garage spaces, I needed to find a home for five big plastic storage tubs. I decided to see if they would fit in the front closet. They did and I was able to get most of what was originally in there back in when I changed up the layout a bit.

While cleaning I decided I needed to deal with a few duffle bag suitcases that needed repairs or I needed to get rid of them. One was a beautiful, well made overnight bag I bought in a gorgeous shop in Scotland in 2001. It has served its time, but other than a tear in one of the straps it was still in fabulous condition.

Another was a cheap canvas duffle style suitcase I purchased a couple of years ago and on the second use the main zipper split open. The other bag was a similar style bag, but much bigger. I had also used this bag about twice and the zipper had split open.

Over the past couple of years we have taken a couple of The Man's favorite bags to a luggage repair shop in my neighborhood. While the craftsman there did nice work, the bill each time was $40 for a small stitching job.

Since all three of these bags had tears that could be handsewn fairly easily I decided to try my hand at saving myself over one hundred dollars. I thought I would share the process in case you might like to repair your own suitcase sometime.

1) Buy Upholstery grade thread, Heavy Duty Sewing Needles and FrayCheck. All three of these can be found at a basic fabric store near you. FrayCheck comes in a small bottle in the notions section. It's a glue-like substance that you can put on torn fabric or rough edges to keep it from fraying.

2) On each rough edge you will be sewing put a small line of FrayCheck along the edge of the torn fabric. This stuff is messy and runs a bit, so take your time and keep it as tidy as possible. It is also a mess to try to sew through so try to keep it from bleeding too far into the fabric because it will make the fabric harder to get your needle through. Then let it dry, which should take just a few minutes.

3) Trim down any long, frayed edges on the fabric. This cleans up the edges and will make your new seam cleaner and less noticeable.

4) Begin stitching. I decided to use a double strand of thread to make it extra strong. I used a straight stitch on two of the bags and a whip stitch on the other. I just went with what made more sense for each seam. I tried to keep my stitches small and close together even overlapping stitches at times to increase durability and strength.

Just a quick tip, if you are ever in the woods and get a tear in a backpack, keep a heavy duty needle in your emergency supplies and use Dental floss to sew the seams back up. I did this once on a trip and the dental floss held strong for years and years.

5) Tie off and trim your threads. I like to tie a few square knots in the two threads when I use a double strand. I also put a bit of fray check on my knots this time to keep them taut.

So that's how I saved about $120 and three of my most useful travel bags. Not exactly a fun project, but definitely one of those projects our frugal grandmothers would be proud of. Why throw away three perfectly useful bags when all that was necessary was a few minutes of concentrated repair efforts. Hopefully these bags will hold up for a while longer and a few more trips. If not, I have the tools to keep doing at least minimal repairs to keep them going.

05 December 2012

Creating Vision Board 2013

I have been thinking a lot about vision boards this past few weeks. I am antsy to make a new vision board for my life. I am ready for an update. Looking back I think I have made four vision boards over the past  seven or eight years. They have been great inspiration and I am amazed at how many things I put on those boards have come to fruition.

Interestingly, on Sunday I happened upon this Oprah Winfrey show episode called Go Beyond The Secret with three of the great queens of vision boards: Louise Hay, Martha Beck and Cheryl Richardson. I saw this show when it first aired in 2008 and was happy to see it again. It seemed destiny for it to come on right after another show I had planned to watch. I stayed and drank it in again.

I am so happy to see that nearly all the things on my last vision board have come into my life. Not always as I have expected but truly there is very little there that has not come to pass or is about to come to pass. I think the only things on that board that have not happened yet or will be coming to fruition in the next few weeks are a trip to Denmark and moving into a house. Neither of those two things is out of the realm of possibility. They are doable, I am just waiting on the right time.

I went back this week and read this post I had written more than two years ago about looking in the mirror and asking Who Am I Now? Things I said there reminded me that I am ready again to look in the mirror as ask who I am and think about where I am at and where I want to go. As this year wraps up, I feel inclined to do that, plan particularly for the next six months and then beyond.

In the old days I would gather a stack of magazines and start thumbing through them looking for pictures or phrases to cut out. Now I can save my money and instead of spending $50 on a stack of magazines I can go to Google Images and search for exactly the kinds of images I want then copy and paste them into a Word document and print them all out on a few sheets of paper.

The cutting, arranging and pasting of all these images on the board is my favorite part and often takes a few days to get just right. It seems you have to tinker at this stage to get it just right and sometimes you just have to walk away and look at it with fresh eyes later.

I am going to buy my new foam core board today. I think I will get one for The Man & The Bug too. They both have vision boards they made in the past and I bet they are about ready for a fresh board too - a  fun family activity. Wouldn't it be fun to have a blogger night and all hang out together and make vision boards! Maybe I'll have to organize that one day.

Here are a few links about vision boards that might inspire you to do one of your own.
Preparing To Make A Vision Board
Vision Board 2011
Vision Boards Through the Years

all images by kalanicut

04 December 2012

A Pin Test #9: A Holiday Star

image via Lekker Fris

Okay, it's A Pin Test #9 and I fell hard for this beautifully styled photo and this holiday star made by Miranda at Lekker Fris when I first saw it on Pinterest a few weeks ago. I thought it would be something fun to try and not to expensive to make.

You can read more about my discouraging start here. Once I got going this was probably easier than I expected. Here's the rundown.

1) Chose the wood. I decided to use pre-cut dowels that were already 36" long. That saved me time, but probably cost me just a little bit more than if I had purchased one long piece of wood and cut it myself. But in my life right now I am trying to learn to keep things simple in terms of how much time and energy I have to give things. The simpler the better.

2) Stain the wood. I chose a driftwood gray stain which gave the wood an nice aged patina. I haven't worked with stain for a while and I was surprised how fast and easy it was. I brushed it on with a sponge brush and wiped all the pieces down about 10 minutes later. By the time I was done staining the fifth piece it was about time to wipe down the first. So this went fast.

3) Let it dry. My least favorite part because I just want to keep working on things. With the humid and sometimes rainy weather it took longer than normal. That's the bummer about doing craft projects outside in the winter months.

4) Lay out the wood pieces. This was the tricky part although in the end it came together splendidly. It just takes a little patience and experimentation to layout the pieces in the best way possible.

5) Lash it together. I used white cord to tie all the joints together, putting all the knots on the backside. I used a lighter to melt the ends of the twine - and I burned one of my fingers good. Par for the course. I seem to have to hurt myself with every craft project over the last few years.

6) String the lights. It was a bit of a challenge to find a short strand of clear lights with a white cord. I found a 50 bulb strand at Target for just $2.50 which was great. The big trick was stringing the strand. I seriously attempted this 8-10 times to get it right. I finally strung the strand tight enough that the last bulb stretched to the first. It was touch and go there for a while when I kept coming up short.

7) Plug it in and enjoy. I put it on my mantle and loved it. The one thing I need to work on still is making sure that it's stable enough. It's pretty big and I'm afraid it will tip over easily. I need to come up with something to take care of that. Here's the final project.

I still need to work on the arrangement on the mantle, that isn't finished yet, but I moved things out of the way to try the star there. I might even just leave the star there along. I'll have to play with it this week. But in the end I was really happy with this project and grateful for another successful Pin Test.

You can see another great holiday Pin Test here. And if you looking to make your home smell holiday fresh try this.

03 December 2012

The Great Craft Project Letdown

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Friday night I set out to entertain myself for the evening. Weekends can be long and challenging with The Man away. I had big plans to head to the hardware store to pick up some wood pieces and other supplies needed for a holiday craft project. I had been looking forward to for a while. After my hardware store visit, I planned to make a few stops at some of my other favorite shops in the area. I was happy to have a plan and something to work on.

I had a fairly good list of things I needed to get at the hardware store. I needed several kinds of fertilizers for my patio garden, house plants and small fruit tree. That took a while to figure out. Then I headed to the lumber section. I very soon crossed paths with a fashionable young woman and her significant other who were also wandering the lumber department. It was clear she had a project and he was helping her think it out and get what she needed. I hoped she wasn't making the same project I was making, based on something I'd seen online. She did not linger long in the trims and dowels section. I was glad.

I took my time to experiment with different types, sizes and shapes of wood. I laid the pieces out to see if they would work with what I had in mind. It took some doing. When I was just about done, another couple swooped into that section of the store. It was just the three of us. I was referring to the photos of the project on my phone for reference when they came to the wood I was looking at, and while discussing things aloud, pulled out the exact wood I was looking at, only a little wider and then began discussing how many pieces they needed and the lengths they needed for each cut.

I quickly began to sense they were making a nearly identical version of the project I was making. I suddenly felt a small pang of jealous that she had her man to help her. Things were moving much quicker for them with two people on the job. Soon he was cutting wood and I was feeling bummed that my project inspired by another blogger's creation did not seem so special anymore. My mind began to imagine this project on the mantle of every house in America, maybe the world. I was discouraged.

I took another good look at the inspiration photos and decided to go a different route and use square dowels that were already pre-cut, even if they were a little more expensive. I grabbed my wood and headed to the register. I paid for my purchases, threw the wood in the car and finished my evening. When I got home, I dumped the wood on the floor of my living room and attempted to ignore it for a couple of days.

Finally I decided to get things moving with my project. I got over myself and decided that I was going to make this project the way I wanted it. I didn't care how many other people had the same thing on their mantle this year. I wished the lumber aisle couple good luck and I started staining my wood with the driftwood stain I purchased.

I will show you the finished project tomorrow as my latest A Pin Test. No matter what I will like it for my house this year. There is a very perfect spot for it in front of the giant mirror above my mantle. If every house in the country does end up having it, I'll take it apart and make something new for next year. Hahaha.

Do you ever feel like every DIY that you find on line is suddenly being made by thousands of people all at the same time? Doesn't it feel like every cool project you find has already had it's fame 15 minutes after it's posted. That is discouraging sometimes. I am trying to learn to just love and appreciate what I really like and not worry about what everyone else is doing. It's tough sometimes though! How do you deal with that?

30 November 2012

No Excuses - Let's Get Our Workouts Done

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If there is one excuse you hear from women it's that they don't have time to workout. I am as guilty as the next. But you know what? I have learned that this is generally just a lie we tell ourselves. I am on a roll right now with breaking down lies I and we tell ourselves. We have time to do other things we want to do. We talk on the phone, we read blogs, we pin workout ideas on Pinterest, we do crafts, we shop, we read, we watch stupid reality shows, and so many other things we want to do.

So then we go looking for motivation to get us out there - we read blog posts about great workouts, we read books about running and we talk about joining a gym. We research diets and workout plans, we sketch out extravagant weight loss calendars, buy expensive quick fix pills, or sign up for Weight Watchers online and never follow through. We discuss our weight issues or lack of time to workout with anyone who will listen. But guess what. In the end that's just another use of time we could be using to workout. We need to workout. So let's just get it done already.

If you say it's because you have kids, read this post about a mother who does not use a car but cycles all over town with her six kids! She also kills the excuse that you can't afford a gym. There are lots of ways to workout for free, even in limited space. If you want to join a gym, talk to friends or family who already belong to a good gym. I jumped in on a deal with The Man's gym and my annual pass is only $99/year. That's less than most women spend wandering at Target in a three-week period.

If there is a will, there is a way. Talk to your spouse if you need to about working together to find a time you can workout. I don't know any husband who is going to be against his wife looking fit and trim. Most men will be excited about it and willing to help. There are fringe benefits for both of you. The double edge sword here is that if you make a fuss about working out and don't follow through on your commitment, that can be really discouraging to a partner and actually damage the relationship.

Want to use the excuse that you're just too tired? This post from WebMD will kick that one to the curb. I know some of us put our workout clothes on and then get distracted doing all sorts of other things. Maybe we can set an alarm on our phones that will remind us to get out the door.

Perhaps you have an injury or health issue that derailed you or has given you concerns about your ability to work out. Go to the doctor and make a workout plan with your doctor that will allow you to get healthy and workout. There are people with cancer, or who have lost mobility due to a stroke, and are missing limbs who are working out every day. Remember last summer there was a runner at the Olympics missing part of his leg? There ya go, yet another excuse dead in the water.

Another frequent excuse...it's too hot outside or too wintry cold outside. Imagine me tilting my head with a look that says "Are you really going to go there?" We have options, let's find them. Walk the stairs in your apartment building, do videos in your living room, do all those at-home workouts you've pinned on Pinterest, swim at a local indoor city pool. Just threw that excuse up in the air like a clay pigeon and made a clean shot that blew it to smithereens!

Never having worked out in your life is also not an excuse. How long are you going to invest in your own poor health and a really bad aging process by accelerating it. It's not fair for other people to have to put in the work to take care of you when your health declines because you were unwilling to do the work to protect your health and prevent totally unnecessary wear and tear on your body. Do you want your kids to be overburdened taking care of you for decades because you refused to take care of yourself? Totally not cool.

Jack Lalanne was working out well into his 90s so age is absolutely no excuse either. If you want to stop working out when you hit 100 I'm okay with that, but until then, get up and get moving. You owe it to your body who serves you in such miraculous ways every day and to God who gave you that body and asked you to take care of it. No matter where you are, there is improvement you can achieve today.

Let's all hold hands and admit there is no valid excuse for not taking care of ourselves. Not taking care of ourselves damages our health, our sense of happiness, energy and well-being, our self-esteem, our ability to have healthy relationships, work, parent and live a happy life. There are no excuses, there is nothing more that needs to be done than to strap on those sneakers and get moving. Anything else is a fail. So let's do this already.

Remember there is an awesome emotional high that awaits you after every workout. There is a spring in your step that comes from regular workouts. There is a major boost of self-confidence, peace and courage that comes from conquering hard things in our lives and making and keeping commitments. I can attest that those are just some of the awesome returns for your investment. How about having a great body. That is a fantastic outcome to enjoy. Your skin and hair will be more shiny with the increased circulation to your body. There are just unending blessings to your life when you workout regularly.

Now, having said that I am going straight in to put on my workout clothes, grabbing my gym bag and heading to the gym. After 4 days of being sick I can't wait to get back out there today. Yay!

So I want to hear it. Did this post motivate you to do something today to improve your health? What was it?

Thankful November 2012: Day 30

It's the final day of Thankful November. November 30 is here. It's flown by and then in other ways it feels like it's been a very big month. I'm happy to see November go because that means December is here. Today I am thankful for all the wonderful things I have to look forward to in December.

There are holiday concerts to attend, cookies to bake, family to visit, a trip home, snowy mountains to play in, wintry clothes to bundle in, holiday movies and specials to watch. I have a little more shopping to do. Lots of fun things to think about.

We have big things on our plate of possibilities in December and they are all very good, good, good things. I am excited. And I'm thankful for the good energy and cheer that being excited and having things to look forward to brings. I always say life's a peach if you have something good to look forward to. I have a lot of good things to look forward to and I am getting excited for the new year too. It's a great time to stand tall and reach for new dreams. And there are some big prayers that look like they will be answered as well.

I am thankful for my life and all the good things I have and have to look forward to. Life is good! How about you? What are you thankful for today? What are you especially looking forward to during the holiday season?

image by kalanicut

29 November 2012

Thankful November 2012: Day 29

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Today I thankful that it has been a week I could rest. I came back from the weekend sick and I'm not even sure what I have...some sort of flu or combinations of something. I just got out of my pjs for the first time in three days because I had to go outside and move the car for street cleaning.

Thankfully I haven't been miserable or out of my wits, but if I get up and try to do too much I am worn out and back lying on the couch pretty quickly. Lots of catching up on sleep has been good since I haven't been sleeping well for a while.

I was so glad that I had half a pot of homemade chicken noodle soup in the freezer from last week. A godsend. Sometimes it's a blessing to be forced to slow down. It's been a pretty fast moving past few months with a lot on my shoulders, so it's no wonder my body needed to catch up. Rest is important and necessary. I'm glad it came at an okay time. I am thankful.

Early Morning Sunrise at Haleakala, Maui

If you ever go to Maui, Hawaii, don't miss the chance to go to the top of Haleakala National Park to see the sunrise. We drove two hours in the dark to arrive with a large crowd to watch the sunrise. We left the largest crowd just off the parking lot and hiked up to the top. It was like being in an REI or Patagonia commercial up there, everyone bundled up in stylish jackets on the top of a beautiful mountain overlooking other island peaks, cameras everywhere trained on the coming sun. The crowd was amazingly international.
I will tell you that after the many hours we spent in the car, and subsequent carsickness, on the Road to Hana, we weren't sure we wanted to go on another long drive. But it turned out to be the most memorable moment of our trip and one we are so glad we didn't miss. It did require that we get up and out the door at 3 am but it was totally worth it in the end. Especially when we could be back at the hotel in time for breakfast.
The morning hilltop communion brought out the yoga in my sweet sister. She has a beautiful yoga practice. I hope she's a yoga teacher someday. She had fun taking a few minutes to center at the top of the mountain. After a half hour or so of high-energy by the crowd waiting in the dark, cameras were clicking at high speed all around as the sun began to rise.

There's me, on two or three hours sleep and zero makeup, but peaceful and happy. I'm bundled as you can see. If you take this trip, bring warm clothes! It's very chilly in the dark at 10,000+ feet. A new day came and it was amazing to watch the transition as the sun crept up from the horizon, through the clouds and across the hillsides. A time for stillness and appreciation for each changing moment.

And then once the sun was up and daytime was upon us, it was another day and the magic of the sunrise transitioned into the normalcy of another sunny day. The crowds dispersed and day began. We headed down the mountain and went to breakfast, which was just what we needed after our big morning's adventure. Desperately needed naps were the first order when we got back to our lodging. Even after a nice, long nap we were still at the pool before noon for a long afternoon of swimming, sunning and lounging.

Have you been to Haleakala? What was it like for you?

all images by kalanicut

28 November 2012

Thankful November 2012: Day 28

image via Entertain Now

Today I am thankful for a lovely friend Diana that I worked with in the entertainment industry years ago. She taught me this lovely little philosophy she had called "Pulling a Sabrina." The gist was that like the film character Sabrina, sometimes in life you just need to go to "Paris," get a total makeover and find yourself. Especially at the end of a hard season or in the middle of great transitions, Pulling a Sabrina is a great way to refresh and reinvent yourself.

In the passing years since we talked that day, I have pulled a Sabrina or two myself. I decided yesterday that it was time for another Sabrina moment. A haircut, fresh highlights, a facial, massage and manicure/pedicure and a little shopping to put a spring in my step. Hair appointment is made and plans are falling into place to enjoy all these activities over the next three weeks. Can't wait. Thank you, dear Diana, for sharing your awesome idea with me! I can't wait to come back from "Paris" renewed.

Simplify Dealing With Mountains of Email

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Monday night I realized I had to face the mountain of emails that has accumulated into my email inbox. The longer I worked the more I realized I needed to find a more effective approach to handle the 2200 read emails I had allowed to stay beyond their welcome.

So I thought I would share a few lessons I learned -- hopefully writing this post will help me remember these tips next time too. Fingers crossed I do a little bit better keeping up and acting on the emails in the beginning rather than waiting to clean my inbox when it has become overwhelming.

1. To simplify clean up, temporarily arrange your emails by who they are FROM. Then go through quickly and delete in large groups the advertisements, old newsletters, etc. you get on an almost daily basis. I was amazed that I had pages of old newsletters and sale notices from businesses I subscribe to.

2. In the from mode, when most emails on a page should be deleted, use the "select all" button. Then go through and deselect (remove checks in the boxes next to) the few you want to keep. Then hit delete. Having to go down an entire page and click almost every box next to an email is a big waste of time when you are deleting most of the emails on a page. It's easier to deselect a few if you know you'll dump the majority.

3. Unsubscribe from any automated email subscriptions you have that are no longer meaningful to you. Also take the time to block those you were added to without your permission. Some years ago I somehow got added to the MTV networks email system. We're talking many networks with multiple marketing platforms. To this day I am still getting emails from even more MTV networks and I continually have to block & unsubscribe. Sometimes it takes some effort and time to extricate oneself from a marketing list that becomes many marketing lists.

4. Create easy to use folders. Having a folder for family, friends, church, travel, online purchases and other basics makes it easy to drop all those emails I want to keep in one easy to find place.

5. Once you have taken action on an email, move it out of your inbox into a folder. A tidy inbox keeps life feeling clean and simple. A full inbox is a lot of "electronic noise" you just don't need screaming at you each time you sign on. Keep it clean and simple.

So those are my quick tips to help make cleaning out the email inbox less overwhelming. Hopefully you don't need these tips because your inbox is tidy and clean. But for those days when it starts to feel unmanageable, hopefully these tips will help you wrangle things quickly.

27 November 2012

Thankful November 2012: Day 27

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It seems a little strange that we are still in November now that the Christmas season is in full swing. Today I am thankful for the United States Postal Service. Some of the best things that have happened this year have happened in these Priority Mail boxes. Thank you postal service for having "if it fits, it ships" for one rate boxes. I have become a pro at packing these babies to the hilt. 

I've sent out lots and I've received some great ones too. Potato chips, tortilla chips and holiday cookies are on their way out in one or two of these boxes soon. Thanks for keeping us connected U.S.P.S. 

Holiday Signage From Etsy

images via Etsy

There is so much pretty creativity going on for the holidays. Today I thought I would share with you some of my favorite Christmas signs available from the many talented artists at Etsy. Here are four of my favorites.

1. Joy -- Handcrafted by Carl McCoy of Americana Signs in Bigfork, Montana. Isn't that just the kind of place you want something rustic and woodsy to be made? I love how simple and pretty this one is!

2. Starfish Christmas Tree -- Made by Shelly at Meet Me By The Sea shop in San Clemente, California. A perfect memory from a Christmas spent near the sea.

3. We Wish You A Merry Christmas -- Made in Graham, Washington by Mandy of Victory Decals. A perfect holiday wish in bright cheery colors and fonts.

4. Wooden Peace Dove -- Created by Slippin Southern, in New Orleans. Shopkeeper Gregory Morris styled this dove after the one that proudly flies above the home of the first president of the United States George Washington.

Check out the shops of each of these artists. They are many more beautiful things to see. I love how beautiful and simple these signs are. They seem to capture the essence of the season without overdoing it. All these and many more beautiful signs are available at Etsy. It's a great time to support local artists and set your home apart with something handmade.

26 November 2012

Thankful November 2012: Day 26

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My gratitude today is of a spiritual nature. I will keep it simple. I am grateful that we can pray to God and that even though He won't remove all our problems, He can always and will bless us with peace, comfort and calm. Calm is an amazing gift. So on this day, after facing some rough seas this past weekend, I am grateful for the calm that was prayed for and received for all. I am grateful to know and see God in my life.

What They Really Want For Christmas

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The holidays are officially here. I thought I'd take this opportunity to share with you a few secrets about what your family really wants for Christmas. Deep down you already know these things, but it might be a good time for a little reminder.

Here's a list of things your family wants for Christmas.

1) They want you happy rather than stressed out.
2) They want you well rested rather than crabby and short tempered.
3) They want you to spend time with them rather than trying to impress friends & neighbors with extravagant decorations and gift wrap.
4) They want experiences with you rather than stuff they'll soon forget about.
5) They want to make memories with you, rather than seeing you overdo it.
6) They want you to sit with them and laugh at silly things, rather than rush around.
7) They want you watch silly holiday specials with them, rather than throwing or attending fancy parties.
8) They want to serve others with you and make someone else's holiday brighter.
9) They want to see the family financially stable, rather than stressed and in debt after the holidays.
10) They want you to enjoy and appreciate what they give you, rather than fussing about what you are giving them.
11)They want your attention on them, rather than on a list, a detailed timeline, late night DIY projects or anything else that takes you away from them.

Your family wants your best, happiest you. And long after stockings are emptied, treats are eaten and toys have broken, the thing they will remember best about their holidays is how they felt with you, how close and connected they felt with you. The best decorations are your smile, the best sounds of the holidays are your laugh and kind words and the best gifts are your love and time. None of these things costs a dime. But they do require diligence and attention. Happy holidays. Hope you make many rich and beautiful memories with your family this year.

25 November 2012

Thankful November 2012 : Day 25

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It's Sunday and I don't usually blog on these days. But for the month of thankfulness I have prepped posts in advance to cover all the days of the month. Today I am thankful for Sundays. In my family for generations Sundays have been a day of rest.

We enjoy worship and communing with a group of people we are continually learning to appreciate  and love more and more. We also eat some nice, quiet, unrushed meals on Sunday. I try to always fit in a family oriented activity: maybe an inspiring DVD, sometimes a board game or visit with friends and family. Other days we walk around the neighborhood or on the beach.

There are no must-dos on Sundays after we return from church. It is restful time and time to be together. Naps are a welcome part of the day if they happen as well. I am glad that my family has made it a tradition to have one day of rest in our week. I think it is such a blessing for our relationships, well-being and the spirit of the home. I am thankful for Sundays.

24 November 2012

Thankful November 2012: Day 24

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I had the chance this weekend to sit down with a big, heavy book and peruse it's pages from start to finish. It was a design book so there were thousands of photos to enjoy. It was a great opportunity to rethink my interior design ideas and better learn what feels like me and what I do and don't really like. To figure these things out it takes time to really look at details and ask yourself questions and come up with answers.

I actually have a stack of design books at my house that I've been wanting to look through page by page. It seems a difficult task to fit into my day. But when I do have some downtime it is so refreshing to sit down for an hour or two and just turn pages. I've been through three or four of them now, with quite a few more to go.

There's something about holding a book and turning it's pages. I am thankful for artistic, well crafted, beautifully designed books. A happy way to inspire the mind.

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