31 August 2012

Why I Blog

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Last night I was at a baby shower and I ran into a friend who was so kind to say some nice things about my efforts here at kalanicut. So sweet of her. It's always feels good to be noticed and appreciated, doesn't it. It made me think about why I blog.

This reminded me of another very gracious friend, a blog-friend. She and I have never actually met but have enjoyed a sweet and mutually supportive friendship from opposite coasts for a few years now. One day as we exchanged emails, she encouraged me by saying keep it up, because you have a unique voice and space in the blog world. In moments where I have questioned the value of my efforts, I have remembered her words and her encouragement to keep on keeping on.

Today is an exciting day for kalanicut. If things go as expected, August 2012 will end as the biggest readership month ever for kalanicut. I say that with humility and also excitement to see that kalanicut is being found by new readers who might find something here to inspire them. It has not rapidly exploded onto the international blog scene like some other blogs, but has had time to ebb, flow and grow naturally.

Earlier this week I spent the day with a wonderful friend. She has been a great comfort to me in so many ways over the years. We have a good give and take and we have both been there for each other in times of need. One thing I have learned to really appreciate from our relationship is our conversations about life and family. We so often realize -- "Oh it's not just me, other people feel this too," or "Oh, this has happened to you too?!"

I know that I can share any frustration with her and she will share her own experiences and we will laugh and find a peaceful resolution, a way to grow and do better and be better. Because when it all comes down to it, we realized that no matter what comes, it really is all about how we manage our emotions and how we choose to act on what comes.

I know that my dear friend wants the best for me and mine. I know she has faith in me and hope for my future and for hers. I know she knows I love her and care about her happiness, health and well-being. She calls to check in on me when too much time has passed since we last checked in with each other. She often calls at the most poignant moments without knowing we are in crisis, or I am having a hard day.

When I think about why I blog it is for just these reasons. Because I want my reader-friends to know they are not alone in what they experience in life or what they hope for. I want to give and take with you, hearing what you know and sharing fun things with you. I wanted you friends to feel this is a place to come on a hard day for inspiration, or to hear that someone else has been there too and found a way to see the sun shine again and continue on in hope.

I want this to be a place where we can all say both, "Hey, life can be really hard sometimes" and "Hey, ain't life GRAND!" I hope we're reminded every day that we are not alone, we are in this together -- and most importantly WE CAN DO IT!

Thank you for being here. Thank you for being real. Thank you for sharing my enthusiasm for life and all it's goodness. And now, on we go in this amazing and curious journey called life. Hope you have a fantastic weekend.

30 August 2012

Good Morning, Bad Morning, It's My Decision

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I woke up one morning earlier this week not feeling so hot. I felt a little tired, a little bored with life, a little uninspired. There were lots of things that needed to be accomplished and even things I could look forward to didn't sound all that exciting to me. It had all the makings of a lame morning, which of course would evolve into a lame day and that could easily evolve into a full blown lame week.

It's so easy to get going down this path. But then I decided to start the day off with a cup of tea. That might feel really good to my stomach which was starting to hurt. Then I decided to do a bit of journaling. I find that is my best therapy and I always seem to be able to work out the bugs in my head when I start putting everything down on paper. It helps clear out my head but also helps me see my path and where I can course correct. Invariably I end up giving myself a pep talk and feeling more excited about life. And that is exactly what happened.

Then I remembered that I am trying to meditate every day. I have a specific meditation I am working on and have a good 20-minute recorded meditation that I like to use. So I did that. By now I was really feeling things turn around. I started thinking about how much power I have to determine how my mood will be and how my day will go. A few simple tasks and I was feeling vastly different than I had just an hour earlier.

I started organizing my day in my mind, prioritizing my tasks and giving myself the grace to know I would do everything I could and then I needed to be kind to myself and just keep trying every day. I promised myself I would take a walk, outside in the sunshine. It's amazing what a little Vitamin D and fresh air will do for the body and soul. I enjoyed walking through my neighborhood seeing the houses that I love, that inspire me and checking out the next construction that is constantly happening in this area.

I was amazed at what a little time for myself did for me first thing in the morning and the power it had to shape my entire day. Is this a new lesson for me? Heavens no! (See list of links below, I say, laughing). But I am realizing more and more that life is really just filled with a repetitious series of lessons we have to learn over and over again. That morning was a great reminder for me that I have all the power to guide how I feel and approach my day.

Here are links to a couple of other posts about Morning Rituals.

Do you have a morning ritual you enjoy? Do you feel a difference when you guide your morning, rather than get up and run into the day? I'd love to hear your take on mornings and moods. Hope your next morning is a beautiful, peaceful one!

29 August 2012

Simplifying My Focus On Safe, Sane and Happy

I have been thinking a lot about simplifying lately. Simplifying the food we eat, simplifying our belongings, simplifying the use of my time.

I've marveled at the complication and unhealthiness of the American diet and have been remembering back to when I was a child and my grandparents ate extensively from their garden and some nights my grandfather would have just bread and milk for dinner by choice. The plates were small and they were healthy and happy. They didn't go out to restaurants often and certainly never gorged on plates the size of food platters that are consumed in chain restaurants across America today.

I have been trying to figure out how to store in my apartment more than it can possibly store. I now have a good amount of The Man's things here to store until his return. I either need to pull yet another organizational rabbit out of my hat or get a small storage unit. My preference of course is the free option, but I don't know if I'll be able to pull it off. And it will take some hours to find out and deal with it all either way.

It causes me to look again at what I do and do not need. How many things am I hanging onto because I might need them "someday" and how often have I actually used any of those things. How many kitchen implements do I need? How about the clothing in the closet. What can I get rid of. What of all the hobby supplies tucked around for sewing, knitting, painting, wood projects and the like. Is there any way I can simplify those things?

Looking at the blog world and Pinterest my head often spins at the frenzy to produce more DIYs, more readership, more press attention, more pins, prettier boards and add more and more onto our goals and expectations for ourselves. Those include 1) to be stylish (and why not DIY our own clothes at the same time), 2) run a marathon (and have the body of a 19-year-old girl after giving birth to five children) 3) continually update our homes (and see how much of the work can you do ourselves), 4) and maintain a positive attitude and sound mind at the same time as we're driving ourselves crazy with all these unrealistic expectations.

Good life under mountains of these kinds of pressures is just not possible and something has to give. Is it our physical health from lack of sleep and exercise? Is it our families from lack of attention and proper nurturing? Are our homes and cars really a disaster until we clean them up for the photo shoot? I joke but you know that is a reality on some level.

I've learned a big lesson the past few months, the past few years in fact, about simplifying the use of my time. These lessons continue to come. When I slow down and really listen to myself and take time to keep myself healthy, I realize very plainly that I cannot do a million things every day. I cannot do all the things that would be good to do in a day. In fact, to be completely honest with myself, if I cut back to only things that I can realistically accomplish in a day, the list should be very, very short. Less than 10 items, maybe only five. That is the amount of things I can really do and still keep my health, maintain a positive, calm attitude and enjoy my life. Anything more than that just brings stress, unhappiness and misery for me and anyone who has to be around me.

The amazing thing is, when I slow down and cut back, it never feels like anything is lacking. Things seem more in alignment, more sound, more safe and more calm. The unnecessary things seem to just float away.

Slowing down has felt good. I'm able to hear the voice of my soul. I can happily fit in a few things that I enjoy doing, get more fresh air and be more conscious about my home, what we eat and what we do with our time. It's an astounding blessing.

Today I am hoping to make a skirt for myself. I need new skirts desperately. If this goes well, I'll whip up a couple of others. I also have a couple of long-sleeve shirts to bleach pen decorate for The Bug for this winter. Taking care of simple, home-centered tasks is incredibly calming and centering.

Yes there are still business concerns, career concerns and financial concerns to attend to regularly, but dealing with them quickly and efficiently makes all the more time for the lovely things of life, for people, for nesting and focusing on what really makes us safe, sane and happy.

28 August 2012

A Pin Test #6: Bleach Pen Tee Shirt

This isn't as much of a test of the validity of a Pin on Pinterest as it is a test of my abilities. Here's is my shirt mid bleaching session. Here is the Pin I based my project off of and if you want to see the entire original post it is here at The Next Bird blog by Kristen.

Kristen's pattern is so pretty and I tried to freehand something. Dealing with the inconsistent flow and bubbling of the bleach pen always frustrates me. I feel like other people's patterns never reflect those inconsistencies like in my own projects. As you can see above I spent quite a bit of time working on putting the bleach on the tee shirt and I also did something similar to the right side of the shirt.

I let the bleach sit and sit and sit. I double checked to make sure I was using a 100% cotton tee shirt (yes, I was.) I let it sit longer. I forgot about it, ran back in and check it. And still I didn't see much progress. I let it sit for a couple of hours and then figured it it was going to happen it would have happened by now and the bleach was beginning to dry up.

So I rinsed the shirt in the sink, making sure to wash all the bleach out of it. When I got done, I opened up the shirt and there were no visible signs of the bleach artwork at all. Project fail. But the great part is that I can try again on the same shirt.

Here's what I'll do differently next time:
1) Start with a fresh bleach pen. The ones I used had been in a drawer for a few years.
2) Use bolder strokes. I think I need to get more bleach on the shirt and make all the lines thicker.

So I'll go from there and try it again. I'll let you know how it goes. If you have any thoughts on what went wrong or suggestions for a better try next time I would love to hear them. Hope you have a great day!

image by kalanicut

27 August 2012

Things That Bring Me Joy Today

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Oh it's a cozy beautiful morning as I write this and I am overwhelmed by its loveliness. It is so quiet. It is overcast. My home feels clean and orderly. I just lit a few candles, including my sweet smelling "protection" candle. The candle is infused with essential oils and here is the inscription it comes with.

"I invoke the spirit to guide and protect me. My faith assures that only the positive may touch my being. I am safe and at ease in body and spirit."

I don't know how power-filled this candle actually is, but it can't hurt, right? While I am sitting here so peacefully, I can't help thinking of all my many blessings and counting a few. It's always good to sit back and think about the things that are bringing us great joy in the moment. Here are a few of things that, to the bottom of my soul, bring me joy right now.
  • Seeing The Man's face on Skype and catching that totally authentic sweet smile that creeps across his face the first moment he sees me on screen. He tries to hide it, but he can't, which makes me love it even more.
  • That moment when I sit down after The Bug is put to bed and I miss her like crazy and can't wait until morning to be with her again.
  • Good people who without being asked march right up and help their friends in need. I love watching you people live and love and I strive to be like you.
  • Change, I am happy for change. Change brings about fresh air, fresh thoughts and new experiences. In every change there are blessings to be found. While it's not always initially welcome, there is always something good within.
  • Listening to myself. One of the great blessings of the passing of years is that you learn to understand yourself and life around you much more easily and quickly. I am so grateful that I have listened to myself in recent weeks. This has taught me things that I otherwise would've rushed through or brushed aside. By carefully and thoughtfully listening to myself, I have learned I need to slow down, need to do more that makes my heart sing, need more rest, need to eat very healthily, need to take more risks and need to continually refocus myself on what is really most important to me. What grand lessons.
  • Letting things be. Sometimes we think we know how everything and everyone in our lives should be and by gosh if we aren't determined to fix it all. I am learning more and more that the beauty of life is most often in just flowing with things as they are and are meant to be, rather than trying to impose my limited perspective on the greater picture. This makes life so much more peaceful. And it's always good to remember that God is in charge and helping along and teaching his children. We need not pursue our desire to fix others. Our job is to love. To love others. To love life as it comes and look for the good and noble in our every day. Life is so much easier when we don't try to take charge.
How about you? What things are tickling your toes with joy these days? Isn't it a happy thought? Lovely, lovely. As the fall days begin to quiet life down, I hope you too have a few moments with lit candles, a cup of tea and a quiet spot to feel your joy and savor it.

24 August 2012

Sometimes A Fall Is A Good Thing

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Is that Fall I feel in the air? Finally we have gotten a bit of a break from the heatwave. Kids are back in school here, the college youngsters are all headed back to campus, Labor Day is just days away.

It's hard to believe that Fall 2012 is just around the corner. Wasn't it just Christmas 2011 a few minutes ago. One of the things that most baffles me about life is the passing of time. I know I mention it here all the time. But isn't it amazing how fast and slow it's passing can feel at different times in our lives?

Darkness is creeping in earlier and earlier every night. This is a change in seasons I never enjoy. So with the coming of the darker months part of me is trying to think of how it might be enjoyable. I'm trying to envision nights by the fire, knitting, drinking tea and cocoa, layering with a sweater and scarf again. It's merely a nice attempt on my part to psyche myself up for winter. The darkness is my big beef about winter here because there really isn't much to complain about with our winter weather in SoCal. It pretty much just stays nice and lovely during the day, but can get pretty cold at night. Spring really is our lame season.

I always find it helps to have something to look forward to. It seems too early to be talking about it, but The Man and I are already discussing where we will spend his two weeks vacation for this winter. This year it's going to require a lot of arrangements, so we do need to make some big decisions quickly.

I'm also trying to make of list of fun things to do. I kind of let that slip the past little while and living in the amazing city I live in I just have no excuse for not being out there adventuring as much as possible. It's amazing how much of this area I still have not seen. I haven't been doing enough things I really enjoy doing. That is the spice of life and I have definitely let the spice lag a bit in my existence. Working on rectifying that ASAP. Shame on me. It seems to require constant and continual effort to make sure we are living the life we want for ourselves, doesn't it?

I like the term course correction. In any journey there is the need to make slight adjustments along the way to end up at the correct destination. I need to tilt my steering wheel slightly towards a few more "love to" activities and slow things down on the "must do" chores a little bit. Sometimes a change of season is the perfect time to take a few minutes for some course correction analysis. In fact it seems inherent to the change of seasons that we look forward and ask ourselves what we want to let go of and start doing differently.

So maybe the oncoming Fall season is something I can actually look forward to. It's my chance to make some changes. Reinvigorate my life goals...and do it with a favorite, cozy sweater on, next to the fireplace, with a cup of cocoa.

23 August 2012

That Little Voice In Our Heads

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I watched Oprah's Super Soul Sunday a few weeks ago on OWN network with author Michael Singer. He wrote a book that immediately caught my interest called The Untethered Soul. The premise of this book is that we need to quiet the voice in our head, that it is our ego and it will basically destroy us if we let it. We should not be listening to it most of the time, because it's kind of just there to mess us up and to carry on a circuitous conversation with itself. This voice is not to be confused with the voice of our souls that guides us in a still small voice in our lives.

This is the voice that says demeaning things to us, questions our decisions constantly, scares us out of doing big things, weakens us and holds us back from being brave. Shutting that monster down can be the difference between peace and madness.

I have been thinking a lot about that and noticing when that pesky little voice in my head starts to spin, chatter, question and criticize. Singer says that this little voice is exhausting because it will carrying on conversations with itself day and night unless we can stop it. No wonder we are so often exhausted, if we are having this chatter going on constantly in our heads. He also talks about how this voice will carry on both sides of the conversation, arguing constantly with itself. Our job is to step back from it and be at peace so that we can focus on what is important to us in our lives rather then the distractions of this crazy, misguided, rambling voice.

Does mention of this annoying voice sound familiar to you? Do you tire of it's repetitive and uninspiring chants?  I'm very interested in reading this book and based on conversations I've had with others I am pretty sure there are others out there who might like this book. If you read it, I hope you enjoy it. Let me know what points jump off the page at you. While I've already done a good bit of study about it and read the first chapter online, I am going to pick it up as soon as I finish the book I'm currently reading. Happy Reading!

22 August 2012

Fall Holiday Pumpkins Project

Wanted to share with you my finished fall holiday pumpkins project. This one took me a while. I have had a lot of distractions. But it gave me a lot of time to think about my process.

I mentioned this project in a few previous posts. These were my inspiration. And here you can see the pumpkins mid-process. I took four of those dollar store carvable pumpkins, spray painted them with two coats of high gloss metallic paint. Had I been able to find "Looking Glass" paint I would've used that.

I read some suggestions for this kind of DIY and realized I skipped the suggestion to spray paint these white first. I think that would've helped a lot. Another thing I wish I'd done was give them three coats of silver spray paint. I rubbed the paint a bit thin later on in the process.

So after they were all shiny, they were a little too shiny. So I decided to try to age them a little bit with black craft paint. I was a little torn between using a dry brush method or using a rag dipped in paint. In the end I went with a two-step process, dry brush first and then rubbing the paint into crevices while rubbing most of it off. My first attempt I realized I went a little too far with the black paint.

I wanted them slightly aged, but the pumpkin on the right looked like something that had been used as a prop of the Disneyland haunted mansion since 1950. A little too-o-o-o aged. So I took a damp cloth to it and rubbed off a lot more of the black paint.

The final product you can see at the top of this post are perfectly aged for my liking. The black paint gave them a lot more dimension and helped hide the blatant fact that they are cheap spray painted foam pumpkins from the dollar store. I certainly could not fool anyone into thinking these are the luxurious and beautiful Pottery Barn Mercury Glass Pumpkins, but for my simple world, these will do.

As you may recall, I have a lifetime supply of glitter. I would like to do some glitter experimentation with a few more of these pumpkins. Fall and winter are the perfect shiny bling seasons and I'm all for a little sparkle in the right controlled environment, haa-haa. Maybe I'll pick up a few more pumpkins to play around with in the next few weeks.

images by kalanicut

21 August 2012

A Pin Test #5: Homemade Stain Remover

This week I'm taking on the Dawn dishing washing liquid and hydrogen peroxide stain removal concoction that is all over Pinterest. One thing I have learned after a while on Pinterest is that just because a pin is wildly popular it doesn't mean people have actually tried it or that it actually works. I based my experiment off this pin. Speaking of Pinterest, you did hear that it's public now right? Anyone can easily join.

So I made the mix, applied it and let it sit on the yellow stains under the arms of two white tee shirts and around the collar and cuffs of one white button down shirt. The instructions said if I let it sit for one hour, then washed the solution out of the fabric, the stains would be gone.

After one hour, I tried one tee shirt. The outcome was not so impressive. So I waited another hour for the second tee shirt. After rinsing it, it was a little better but still visible. So I decided to let the shirts soak overnight to see if that would help. At that point I was hoping the shirts didn't disintegrate while it's soaking.

The next day I put the shirts in the washer. After washing and allowing the shirts to air dry, I was very interested to see if there would be considerable improvement after a good washing. I have to say I was surprised and pleased to see how good the white button down looked afterwards. Very shiny white. The tee shirts both looked pretty good but you could still see the stains under the arms. They weren't super noticeable but I could still see them.

I think the difference might be that stain removal solutions traditionally work better on 100% cotton fabrics like this button down shirt than on blended, manmade fabrics such as stretch tee shirts.

Now here is a contrast for you. At the same time I soaked a bucket full of whites in OxyClean overnight. I was impressed to get equally good results with this approach. I would say that both options were equally satisfactory to me. The whites are looking good around these parts. I would say that this Pin Test was a success.

I will definitely use this method again, in fact I am already soaking The Bug's white sweater that somehow has a huge stain on the bottom of the sleeve. I'm guessing she stuck her hands in some water then rubbed her sleeve against something dirty. It's a mess. But I'm sure either of these options will get us back to a pretty, white little sweater.

How about you? Do you have a favorite of these two methods? Or are you committed to something else?

images by kalanicut

20 August 2012

The Obvious Signs of A Family Weekend

Last week was a big one. Big challenges, big prayers, big events, big miracles and big blessings. Then to wrap it all up a super fun weekend adventuring around some of our favorite haunts.

Post weekend around the house I have found little piles of dinosaurs and fuzzy puppies, a summer dress dropped on the floor in the living room, my gardening shoes mysteriously in the dining area, markers spread all over the coffee table, letters ready to mail that are full of pictures and love messages, and remnants of other projects lying around. I also still have a couple of big pots soaking in the kitchen sink. The dishwasher ran last night for the first time in a few days and it might have been the most crammed dishwasher I have ever seen.

All signs of a lovely family-style weekend. We also went to some favorite spots. We enjoyed a yummy dinner on the patio at our favorite Mexican restaurant, a walk around gorgeous gardens with beautiful views, a photography safari and time spent with some of our favorite people at church on Sunday.

I was feeling it last night, perfectly....happily.....tired. I had some of the best sleep I've had in a while this weekend, which was great, especially considering I haven't slept well for the past couple of months.

It was a great end to the week. Now I feel like I need to rest up again and have a post-weekend weekend to catch my breath. This should be a great week. I have a lot of fun things going for the blog. I'll share with you how the Pin Test stain remover project went tomorrow. I'll share a book I just learned about that really has me thinking. I'll share some thoughts about my grandfather's diet. I've been thinking about that a lot lately, almost every day in fact. And I have a few other good things in store for you.

How are you spending these last weekends of summer? Doing any favorite activities? I'd love to hear your great ideas.

images by kalanicut

17 August 2012

A Flurry of Industry

Last night there was a flurry of industry here as I continued working on my mirrored pumpkins with a final coat of metallic silver paint, started a new Pin Test experimenting with stain removal potions, soaked whites in a bucket in the tub to revive the pure snowy white color. I also managed to break a glass jar on the kitchen floor. You know the annoyance and security measures that have to follow that up.

Then I vacuumed the living room. Mysteriously I have become a passionate vacuum-er in recent weeks. I seriously have no idea what that is about but for some reason in my life right now I cannot tolerate the thought of a dirty carpet. I have also been very dutiful about cleaning the bathroom vanity. It gets a serious scrub down every few days.

I also washed down two chairs and a small side table that have been sitting down in the garage for a year. It's amazing the disgusting black goo that accumulated on them and accumulates on anything we leave outside. Ah, city living in the armpit of two of the busiest freeways, one of which is under massive construction.

Then fluffing up all the living room furniture and pillows commenced. And without the AC running on a very humid night I was dripping with perspiration.

Now I have just one problem. I have been looking for bleach pens for about a week. The ridiculous thing is that I know I have bunches of them and seem to find them all the time when I don't need one. But now that I have a little project I want to work on, and after I got out everything and got all ready to create, I can't find one of them. Not one.

I refuse to go buy another one because you know if I do that, the minute I get home I'll find a whole bag of them. But I'm starting to get frustrated. I have looked in all the usual spots, repeatedly but to no avail. I just know they are somewhere right under my nose. They weren't all together so I should've at least run into one of them in my searches. Any advice? At what point do I just give in and go buy one knowing I'll find them all?

I'll be back to report on the Pin Test in my next post. Until then, I'll be searching for bleach pens and overthinking how I'm going to sell my dining table and chairs. I haven't mentioned that before here have I? Haa-ah-ha. Hope you're having a great day!

16 August 2012

A Good Time For Fall Holiday Decorations

School is kicking back in for a lot of families and it can be a big adjustment when things suddenly go quiet during the day. That makes this a great time to work on holiday decorations for Fall 2012. One of the best places to look for fall decorations and crafting supplies right now is the thrift stores.

Last week I went to the dollar store looking for small decorative pumpkins. They weren't on shelves yet but later that day when I dropped some things off at a local thrift shop I found four of the exact pumpkins I was looking for at 50 cents a piece, yes that's half the price of the dollar store rates. Two dollars in my pocket. Ching-ching.

I wanted to try creating some faux mercury glass pumpkins, a take off on these beautiful Antique Mercury Glass Pumpkins from Pottery Barn. After doing some searching around the web, I realized that as easy as it sounded this was a very popular project around the blog world. Right there that kind of bums me out. But good grief, it was all over Pinterest so what was I expecting? Haa-haa.

The one thing I learned about the faux mercury glass attempts is that they just don't seem to have the high end look of mercury glass no matter how hard they try with all sorts of techniques. So I am still experimenting and reading up on that. I am trying out some high gloss metallic paint but I'm not sure I'm sold on the results I've gotten. We'll have to see.

Since this is one on my A Pin Test projects I'll let you know how it goes tomorrow. As for other great spots to find fall holiday decorating supplies, the dollar store as I mentioned is another one. Last year Dollar Tree had a variety of decorative (read plastic, haa) gourds that I used for decorating. Some of them are great starters for DIY projects too.

Check out JoAnn fabrics as well. I seem to remember that their fall decor was all on sale at a good discount earlier this week. Plus there are always their great coupons to use.

In the meantime, I am going to continue to experiment with a few decor projects and see what fun I can come up with for some simple fall decor for the mantle. Since my home is beach/Asian inspired, full scale Halloween doesn't really fit in, but it's always fun to see what I can tweak to give us a hint of a real fall since that's a season we see nothing of here in SoCal.

Are you already started on fall holiday projects or maybe costumes? How about Christmas projects? Anyone that on the ball already? I am going to have to be a little creative this year for the holidays and I am really determined not to buy stuff just so we all have more stuff. We have enough stuff, so I need to put some extra effort into the planning process.

Have a great day! Thanks for coming by.

15 August 2012

It's Never Too Late To Say Thank You

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Yesterday I had the sweet experience of finding an email in my secondary inbox from a young woman I mentored a couple of years ago. We have never met and our interaction was pretty short, but sweet. She was just preparing to graduate from college at the time.

We were introduced through an organization where I volunteered to mentor young marketing and communications students. We exchanged emails from my coast to the Midwest. She asked about life, managing a career and how to manage work/life balance. I shared my thoughts with her on these topics and sent her every bit of positive energy I could.

The email I received yesterday was so dear. She was almost embarrassed to contact me after so long to thank me for my mentoring efforts and share how she was doing since graduation and into her career. She said she hoped I wouldn't think it was weird that she was contacting me.

Weird? No way. I thought it was fantastic. There is never a bad time to tell someone thank you for influencing your life for the good. Her note meant the world to me and you can bet I wrote her right back. It was interesting to connect again from her new perspective and the new places where I "live" at this point in my life. It gave me a moment to look back and see and share what I had further learned in the past couple of years. I also found myself wishing that I could be as wise as she now is at her age.

It also got me thinking about so many who mentored and inspired me in my youth. It's never too late to keep thanking them either. Whenever I have crossed paths with these good people I have taken a moment when possible to thank them for their influence on my life. I will be forever grateful. I should keep doing that and perhaps some letters are in order. These dear people won't always be with us. No one is ever averse to receiving a message of kindness and thanks in their lives.

So I thank this dear mentee for taking the time to write and say thank you and share how she is. It inspired me and helped me to see I have learned a few things over the years too and am doing okay.

14 August 2012

Five Memorable Things To Do Before Summer Ends

Someone pointed out to my last night that the sun is going down faster and faster every night. Ah, I hate that. That is one of the things that makes me quite sad every year. Living in SoCal the sun already goes down about an hour earlier here than it does where I grew up at the height of summer.

It's definitely crunch time to enjoy the rest of the season. So let's make the most of it, shall we? Here are five super fun things to enjoy before Summer 2012 slips away.

1. Plan a fun potluck night at the park with friends. Make the most of the evening light.
2. Cook on fire. Barbecue burgers, roast dogs and do not forget the S'mores.
3. Sleep outside. Get a campsite for a night or even put a tent up in the backyard. Stare at the stars as you fall asleep.
4. Go to the beach or a lake for day. Get wet and get a good dose of Vitamin D.
5. Enjoy a sunset. Have a drink, sit in a nice chair near people you love and peace out.
6. (A bonus) Go to an outdoor concert or play. A great way to make good memories.

It seems like most summers the best partying happens in the final weeks of the season. It's time to make some plans and have some fun.

image by kalanicut

13 August 2012

Thrift Store Clothing Finds - Bold Colors And Patterns

Last month I had a chance to do some wandering and adventuring in the Inland Empire, an area about an hour east of where we live. That can be two or three hours east depending on traffic, haa-haa, but not so funny if you're driving in it.

I happened upon two national chain thrift stores, the name of which I will not say because I am so angry with them about the outrageous price gouging at my local store and many of the city locations around here. It starts with a G and ends with an L if that helps. See my seething eyes from where you sit. ha.

It was with mixed emotions that I found that in the outlying areas prices are drastically less then what they are charging in my neighborhood for the same stuff. I found lots of furniture for five to ten dollars. In my neighborhood you won't find any furniture for less than $30 and it skyrockets from there. It's ridiculous. I found two night stands that I would've loved to buy but I have absolutely no need or use for them, they were five dollars each. Scream...

I held back on the furniture but found three beautiful items with bold colors and patterns. So perfect to match up with a simple outfit to make it pop. I love this little orange top for The Bug, can't wait to try it on her. And we needed shorts badly, so I was happy to find another pair in these pretty blue hues.

For me, the words Michael Kors, Orange and Hawaii will forever make my heart sing. Here's an example, my favorite purse of all time. I will also forever smile when I revisit that handbags post. It's titled Blog Crawl and I was crawling alright. So sick I ended up in the hospital just a few hours later. But boy did I keep my commitment to get that post up. Too ridiculous. What was I doing????

Anyway I found this beautiful orange and white scarf labeled Michael Kors Hawaii. Hello singing heart. I have plans for this big, square beauty. Perfect for a wrap in Hawaii, great for a wrapped neckscarf with all the blacks and grays in the heart of winter to keep my neck sunny, cheery and warm! Total price for all items, $11. Sweet.

Here are a few other thrift store scores.
Embroidered Tops & Bottoms For Girls
Dreamy Wood Bread Bowl
Home Decor & Fashion Accesories
Belted Cardigan

Thanks for coming by. Hope you have a joyous day!

The Always Sad Day After The Olympics

image via BBC News

Anyone else feeling an Olympic hangover besides me. If you are a lifelong Olympics fan, as we are in my family, you might be feeling a little lost now that the amazing games of the XXX Olympiad are over. What will I do now? What will I have to look forward to? What will inspire me? Doesn't it just break your heart when they extinguish the flame?

Along with saying goodbye to the Olympics comes the realization and a bit of a relief that it's time  to get back to regularly scheduled life, earlier bedtimes, the TV on less and all those good things. But before I do, I wanted to say well done London. It was truly a beautiful and amazing games and it seemed that the world did unite with heroes and heroic stories from every corner of the globe. Countries large and small, young and old, had great triumphs to celebrate. It was easy to celebrate the success of athletes from around the world.

I'm happy to hear that the next Olympics are just 18 months away. I do so love the Winter Games. Here are two posts I wrote from the last Winter Olympics that seem appropriate again today.

What about you? What did you take away from this Olympic Games? Who inspired you?

I'll be back later this morning with a new post about thrift store adventures in the suburbs and some  spunky fun clothing finds. Hope you're off to a great Monday!

10 August 2012

Thrift Store Furniture Inspiration

On a recent visit to a warehouse thrift store here in SoCal I was impressed to see how much great furniture there was just waiting for someone with a little vision.

(headboards stacked vertically - love that yellow!)

My head was spinning with creative potential for bookshelves that would be so perfect for displaying books and treasures, gorgeous headboards to rest against while reading a favorite book and nightstands to put a lamp, glass of water and that book on. There were a variety of armoires that would be so pretty to display favorite dishes and kitchenware.

I'm looking at the furniture I have and what we really need. The Man and I each own a full home of furniture, so we'll definitely need to sift through things when the time comes to merge households. I'm planning to sell a few pieces of furniture we won't need that I've accumulated along the way and I'm interested in upgrading a few things too. Hopefully the buy and sell budgets will balance each other out and give me a few new options to play with and new things to look at. 

My number one priority is to rid myself of a dining set I've never loved that I inherited from an old apartment and replace it with a table, bench and chairs. I would like to make the table and bench but we'll see how that goes. Oh to have a garage, basement or backyard to work in.

Some of my furniture, I am realizing, I've had since college and while the pieces have a little sentimental value, it doesn't mean I have to keep them if they aren't working or I'm just plain tired of looking at them. I have a few random chairs stacked in the corner that need to go. I'm keeping things I thought for sure I would want to get rid of and revisiting all my thoughts about using my space.

I'm definitely wanting to downsize and simplify as far as furniture and decor goes. That means having more effective pieces and owning things that are more reflective of me and my style than things I have because they once upon a time worked and fit into a meager budget.

Successful thrift shopping hopefully reflects that those ideals balance out with the excitement of finding something interesting at a great price. Any of these pieces would be fantastic with a little upcycling paint, or lined with wallpaper, an added pattern and a little elbow grease.

09 August 2012

Too Soon To Call For Fall

Ah, blog friends, if we could sit down to a cup of tea together in person I would have so much to say. But suffice it to say that my little clan is going through a very challenging time and I've had my hands full, in Mama Bear protector mode, trying to keep all three of us thriving and well.

In spite of all that is going on right now, I am feeling very blessed, of good spirits, counting every little blessing and trying to get a little sand between my toes and sun on my cheeks whenever possible. Life lately has not provided time for creative pursuits much, including so many things I hoped to do on the blog that past few weeks. I will definitely get back to Pin Tests soon.

The two crafts I have put great energy into of late are letter writing and care package creating. There is great love put into both these two tasks, but they do take up a great deal of time, particularly when requests for a long list of needed items requires trips all over town and decision making on my part that is often made with very little information to go on. Yesterday I was trying to choose eyewear and computer glasses on the fly.

I'm jokingly considering moving to Culver City because I have been there so many times the past couple of weeks picking up things. Ah, the joys of Culver City, where parking is free, stores are plentiful and driving is pretty easy (comparatively). I can't tell you how many Target runs I have made in the past two weeks. Tomorrow I will ship boxes nine and ten. Thank goodness for the "if it fits, it ships" Priority Mail shipping boxes.

We're having an earthquake wave in SoCal. Three earthquakes the past two weeks. Unnerving. I've never actually been really scared during earthquakes but the middle of the night quake two weeks ago scared me pretty good. With each earthquake there is always the fear that it is just the precursor to something scarier and bigger.

We're also having a heatwave this week and it makes me feel quite ready for fall. Our real summer here runs from mid-July to September or October, so I'm really pushing it since our hot season has really just begun and real fall weather won't appear for some time now. But at least I'll be able to run away to other places enjoying fall soon.

It feels good to check in with you. It's my connection to my authentic self and the outside world at the same time. Such a blessing. Thank you for being here, for the friendships we've made over the years and for your kind support always.

Above photo was from a lovely picnic with my sister at the beach on Monday. It was perfect weather, a perfect breeze, pure relaxation. A blessing to count for sure.

07 August 2012

Family Fun and Fall Fashion

Hello my dear friends. It's been so long. I'm sorry for my unexpected absence. I was getting the itch last night, so ready to come back to spend some time with you. I could feel that I had not been getting my writing time in and not inspiring my own mind.

My wonderful sisters came to spend the week and it's been marvelous and nonstop. My sisters came to surprise my mom for her birthday. When we walked in the door my mom was sitting with her back to us and she said hello, but just didn't even act like anything unusual was happening. It was as if she was at our family home and we'd all just burst in the door full of noise and activity like we always have. She looked back over her shoulder, then a few seconds passed, then she turned around and it was clear it finally registered with her what was happening. It was so cute and so special. I will never forget the look on her face when it clicked.

Another highlight of the sisters' visit was my prolonged lack of sleep due to starting up a few episodes of Downton Abbey when things finally quieted down sometime after midnight every night. I am the last woman in America to see it, haa-haa. Needless to say I blew through Season 1 and Season 2 in about 6 days. Lovely.

Today on my way home from dropping my last visitor off at the airport I decided to a little therapy shopping (haa-haa) to get myself over the hump of missing the sisters so very much. I picked up these lovely Ugg Kaylee Clogs for more than half price. It's no secret I am a clog girl, have been since I was tiny. Clogs with a braid across the front are a particular favorite. I thought these would be so pretty with pants for fall or with a skirt, sweater and cute fall patterned tights come the colder days. With brown and black both incorporated here I'll also have the flexibility to wear them with a wide variety of color and outfit combos.

You might remember I have been on a quest to broaden my shoe selection from mostly sandals and boots to some shoes that I can wear in colder weather and on trips. These fit in nicely. I am also trying to wear heels more. I used to wear heels every day, not the pointy feet destroying kind but easy to walk in platforms with good support. I've missed that and feel much more myself in heels now and again.

You can see some of my other favorite clogs at these links:
Cape Clogs
Sanita Clogs
Sundance Clogs
Cape Clogs Kids
Swedish HasBeens

So that's what I've been up to. How have you been? Do tell!

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