28 February 2013

White Starfish Touches

I have always had a soft spot for small white starfish. I like the shape, the color, the relaxing vibe anything from the ocean gives out. I bought these starfish in Hawaii a few months ago and brought them home packed tightly in paper towels inside a previously used whipped topping container. Happily they all made it home.

*if* I had a beach house.....

A couple of weeks ago on a late afternoon The Bug and I headed to the beach for a wander and I brought along a used ice cream container to snag me a little bit of sand. I have had this photo above pinned on my Pinterest boards for a long time, thinking someday I would get a jar and do something similar. But it took me a while to get it done. Now it sits (see first photo) happily in my work space next to the conch shell I picked up a few years ago while traveling. Good reminders to remember good days.
Beach weddings
Here are a few more inspirations I've loved over the past little while. There are so many sweet, beachy ways to use starfish as decor. They instantly bring a feeling of relaxation, happy places and good memories.
pretty starfish bunting :) x

Starfish and beach-inspired decor is perfect for this time of year when a girl just wants to put winter behind her and dream of summer beach vacations, hot bicycle rides, sun dresses and sandals. I hope all those dreamy things come to a reality this summer. 

Even if we don't get away we can still enjoy all those things, happily, right here at home. It will be a happy summer no matter what. But if I can wish upon a little white starfish, it will be the summer of our happy dreams.

27 February 2013

A Few Minutes To Catch Our Breath

Saturday I set out to accomplish some big things and not a one of them worked out or got accomplished and I spent about five hours in the car from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. There wasn't anything I could do to fix things and the day was pretty frustrating. So I took some time at my favorite beach, our family beach, and walked.

Often we leisurely wander the full length of the beach. On Saturday I think I my walk resembled more of a march.  Up to the top of the beach, down to the bottom of the beach and back. It was good to walk it off, to slow down, breath, enjoy nature and get some sun on my cheeks. 

Sometimes the best thing to do, maybe the only thing to do is take a step back, walk away, stop the presses and just let things be. Taking a few deep breaths, looking for beauty and getting some sand between your toes is incredibly good for the soul, especially the frustrated soul. I walked away with a smile and then went and had a nice dinner by myself. It was good to find something good in the day and put the frustrations behind.

So here is a little visual breathing space for you today. Just in case you need it. Deep breathing, smiling, dropping the shoulders breathing space.

26 February 2013

Doing It My Way Is Just Fine

image via

I like to do a good bit of studying before I approach a new challenge or project. Sometimes I spend too much time learning and not enough time doing. I think it's quite possible that I am not the only one who does that. Thinking about doing something can be much more comfortable than actually doing it. But I'm working on that and improving all the time.

I have two goals I have been very focused on lately and I am working on them daily. I am having progress and I am excited and motivated. Things are going well. I have found my way and am moving forward. This is great. This should be great. This should be enough to make me feel elated.

And yet, I keep catching that little tape recorder in my head that is telling me that I'm not doing it right. I am not doing it exactly like that reporter in the online article, the self-help book author, the "For Dummies" writer, the fitness guru and expert on TV said it should be done. Maybe it would all be happening bigger and faster if I did it 100% the way they said it should be done. Maybe I'm not doing it well. Why can't I just do it their way. What's wrong with me. I'll never be successful.

And then my spirit shouts inside my little heart, Wait a minute! Whoa! Stop those crazy thoughts girl. What you're doing is taking all the great suggestions other people have put out there and making them work for you. Those "experts" don't even know you. They don't know your life, your heart, your circumstances, your challenges or exactly what you are trying to accomplish.

You are NOT failing. You are NOT doing it wrong. You're progressing. You're using all these tools to help you have success. That is the point. That is great. That is right. That is perfect just the way it is. Just go with it and enjoy the journey.

This is my journey. This is my path to success. This is my work, my success, my progress. I am the one making this happen and I should enjoy the process and all the fruits of my labors. So I'm shutting down that loud tape recorder that so often tries to derail our progress. I'm yanking the batteries out of that tape recorder, pulling out the cassette and cutting all the ribbon up in shreds.

I am going to do this my way and keep enjoying every bit of my success. I am continuing my march down my path in my life. I am the one who knows who I am, where I want to go and what success means for me. I am the one doing ALL the work to make it happen...to make it happy.

Have you ever duked it out with your inner tape recorder? What made you yank it's batteries and throw it against the way. How did that change you?

25 February 2013

30-day Reorganization Update #1

image via Container Store

I introduced you to my 30-day total house reorganization and deep clean project last week here. As promised I am creating weekly updates to share what I've learned and accomplished.

In the first week, I focused a lot on the bathrooms. Maybe it's because they have the smallest drawers and seemed easier to tackle at first. I took one-and-a-half shelves worth of stuff in the second bathroom and put it all in an over the door hanging organizer. It's stunning how much space we created by doing that. And I got help. The Bug is at that age where organizing things is fun, so she divided everything up into their assigned pockets and did a great job. My only concern is that the door hanger is a little bit heavy now. I'll have to watch it and see how it goes. But it looks pretty great and now we can see all the stuff that has been hidden under the cupboards.

I tidied up my once supremely organized drawers in my bathroom. Several years ago I invested in plastic drawer organizing trays so I can divide up all the bits and pieces and keep them in one place where I always know they will be. It also seems to really help a person's desire to keep things clean when it's very simple to put them away and they look nice where they belong, not too jammed up. I also took the time to wash all my hair brushes and makeup brushes.

I also went through a mountain of papers The Man brought here before he left and all his mail from the past months. I filed everything and recycled a ton of paper. Major project made easier with Netflix on my laptop watching some favorite TV shows online. It's amazing what I got done. Just thinking about it makes me tired.

The big accomplishments and revelations were these:

1) Throwing Old Stuff Out -- we have a lot of junk going bad in the cupboards even though I go through them all about twice a year. There was a lot to throw away, particularly in bathroom that The Man and The Bug share. I also threw away some aging potions & make up from my bathroom

2) Organizing to Eliminate Overbuying -- The Man is prepared for any body care situation times ten. He has no idea how much of everything he has because it's not well organized. Hopefully now that we have all five cans of foot spray and all his dental floss, soap, shampoo, conditioner, shaving gel and sunscreen in one place he'll be able to find everything he's accumulated here over the years more easily and he'll use it up instead of buying more. A time saver and a money saver.

3) Creating New Open Space -- For the life of me I can't figure out what was taking up all that space I have now created in both bathrooms. I can't quite remember how I had the organizers in my bathroom, but they are feeling much more open and spacious. And I now have 1 1/2 empty cupboard shelves in the other bathroom. Just wait until we tackle the other cupboards in both of those bathrooms.

My personal takeaway this week is that for about an hour a day of work, I am getting a huge amount of satisfaction from this project and a lot done. The added benefit is the new space availability we will enjoy after this. It's a triple win situation.

22 February 2013

Sunshine Streaming In

image via

It has been a cold and rainy past week here in SoCal. This morning the sun is streaming in the windows. Even though it's not particularly warm, there is something about sitting by a sunny window that does the body good. I am actually bundled in this shirt, a sweater, scarf, wooly slippers and yoga pants, trying to get warm. Eating a bowl of cereal with very cold milk does not seem to have helped. My bad.

I thought I would share a few things I'm thinking about this week.
  • Was reminded of this excellent advice from Design Mom, Gabby Blair, on making use of small increments of time to get things done.
  • I am beginning a new career as a child custody consultant. If you know parents I may be able to  help please pass my contact info along to them. After a long career in marketing/PR, journalism and business I took everything I knew into the family court system to support The Man & The Bug. There is very little a parent will go through that will be more stressful than a child custody battle. Knowing the system and having a strong case from the get-go is powerful! I'm happy to help anywhere in the country via online or phone for an hour or two, a few months or a few years as needed. You can get more info here.
  • Do you know Soul Seeds? Peaceful, wise inspiration for every day. Good stuff there. One of my favorite quotes and something I try to carry with me every day: "Have the heart of a peaceful warrior and nothing can conquer you. -- Ian Lawton
  • If you enjoy the feeling of calm, cool and collected, you should get to know my blog friend Glenda. Her blog Gg: Notes on the Journey is full of encouragement and joyful living. I love how much she loves her husband and daughters. She also inspires me by taking care of herself so that she can give more to others. Wise woman, lovely friend.

Have you done anything for your pure enjoyment, relaxation and happiness this week? If not, do something nice for yourself this weekend. Take a few minutes or a few hours. I'm planning to hit the beach, just trying to decide which one. I think I might take a drive down to San Diego this weekend, take care of some business and have some fun.

21 February 2013

All Hail To The Navy

images via Gap & JCrew

I have had basically no navy in my wardrobe for a long time. I just felt dead in it, honestly. It just didn't feel like me. But this winter I started warming up to navy again. It's a great color to pair with my favorite pinks and oranges and I'm finally working it into my neutrals palette once again. Thought I'd share some of my favorite late winter/spring looks that are all about the color Navy.

Gap Harbor Jersey Striped Top (a favorite of mine here.)

images via Gap, J.Crew & Amazon

images via J. Crew & Gap

We'll see how I do pulling things together this spring and summer using more navy. One thing I have learned is that I don't have great scarves that go with navy. I need to rummage through the boxes of beautiful scarves The Man sent home at Christmas and see what I can find to tie into my new crush on the color navy.

How about you? Have you always had a sweet spot for navy or does your love for it come and go? Do you crave it in the springtime when all the nautical stripes appear?

20 February 2013

My 30-Day Home Reorganization Challenge

I'm looking at the calendar and feeling that our long, long wait for The Man to return to us will come up very quickly and I still have so much I need and want to accomplish before he returns. One of the major tasks I want to accomplish is a complete home reorganization. When we begin living as a married couple and a family of three full-time, I want this home to reflect all of us and be simple, organized and comfortable for everyone.

I spoke to a therapist friend recently who works with people who are away from home on military deployments. She said one of the things they most need when they return home is a very clean and orderly home because for the entire time they are away they are dreaming of home. In their dreams are imagining things in a perfect state. Welcoming him home to a calm and peaceful, organized environment where his things are incorporated in a new way should be a great blessing for him. It's definitely something I want to provide for him.

You know I'm an organization fan and at least twice a year I get a major hankering to tear the place apart and clean everything and then put it all back together. So merging these two desires is quite perfect right now. In the past I have often taken a week or two and put almost all my energies to it doing it all at once. Right now I know that is completely not practical or doable. So I've been considering another plan and this one feels good. Here's the plan I came up with.

1) Made a task list -- I walked through every room in the house making a list of every space that needed to be cleaned and organized. I tried to break it down into tasks that would take between fifteen minutes and one-hour, that I can do quickly each day. 

2) Analyzed my list -- I came up with 64 things that needed to be done. I figured I could fit two in every day and then catch the final four somewhere in between. I decided that rather than assigning chores to each day of my 30-day challenge I would instead allow myself to choose every day which tasks I wanted to do so that I didn't feel locked into anything that wouldn't work for me each day and I could tailor things to what was happening each day.

3) Got busy -- I picked two things to accomplish yesterday. Get started right off the bat with success. I decided to do my two bathroom drawers. Washed all the organizer trays, wiped out the drawers, straightened everything up and re-evaluated how I was using the space, what products I was actually using, etc.

So I will keep you up each week on the reorganization project. Each week I should be crossing off at least 14 projects. Looking forward to it!

19 February 2013

The Best of Saturdays

image via

I hope you had a fantastic weekend. If you are in the states, I hope you had a brilliant holiday weekend. I had one of those Saturdays that you dream about. Imagine it's February, 80 degrees, all the windows are open, you are eating fabulous food and doing only what you feel like doing. I had all the windows and curtains wide open for broad views of palms swaying in our near-constant ocean breeze that blows up our street and into our windows.

I thought I had slept in and realized it was only 8 a.m. by the time I'd been enjoying those half-awake, half-asleep moments that happen only on days when the alarm doesn't ring. I watched a couple of episodes of the latest series I'm catching up with on Netflix, then sat with my laptop in bed for a while catching up on pretty things. 

Then a friend from afar texted and when we realized we were both home along so we set up a phone call for after I took a long, lazy shower. We caught up with each other for two hours on the phone. That was a rare pleasure that we would both be without anyone of at home who desperately needed our attention for two hours. After that lovely, easy-going conversation, it was only lunch time. I drank lots of water and ate fresh fruit.

I kept drinking the day in. I put on some happy music. I took some time to blog and edit some photos. All fun stuff again. Then I talked to The Man for a bit. At that point it was only mid-afternoon and I decided it was a fine time for a nap. I curled up on top of my bed and let the sun sink into my bones from the open window.

I never did sleep, but I relaxed. Later I went out on what I call my Saturday Night Dates. I have a little circuit of all my favorite shops. I made a list of things I needed and headed out for a nice drive around the circuit. I found a cute pair of red tassel flats and bought a few supplies for the house. I got a few good organizational tools that will help with my 30-day organizational challenge too. I will tell you all about that tomorrow. It was a fun night out. I was inspired by pretty things and ideas I saw in the shops, something that always feeds my soul and helps me to better understand what I like and what feels like me.

When I got home I relaxed in bed and watched a little more Netflix. It was one of the best of Saturdays and just what I needed. I am so happy I had a chance to live an entire day just as I would choose to. It's so good for the soul.

When you have a day all to yourself, what are your favorite things to do?

18 February 2013

When You Can Do No More

image via

I had an experience this past week that taught me that I was no longer effective at helping someone close to me through some very stressful problems. My effectiveness while once beneficial had dwindled just by the sheer massive number of times I had been the one to say "Everything will be okay" despite continued hardships. The other party could no longer hear my voice. The situation between us became more of a disconnect that a help.

It was a moment where I knew I needed to step back. And I needed to trust that God would put the right people and experiences into the equation to help my dear one because my turn had ended. It's hard to see someone suffering and not try to help, but I knew I wasn't helping anymore. Letting go and allowing God to fill the void required  more faith than I had.

But the more I quietly sat and thought about the situation, the more I knew it was right. Throughout the day the topic came up with friends and family and I saw that there were others well equipped to step in and provide love and leadership and care. I just had to let go. As I type this, in my mind I am writing the problem down on a piece of paper, putting it in the palm of my cupped hands, opening them and allowing the wind to take that note and it's requests to wherever it needs to go.

I am setting the situation free to be blessed by others. I am setting myself free from the fear and worry. I am setting my dear one free to continue on the journey to discovery. This is a good thing. But it took some working through to get here to the other side of the problem. Now I feel free to watch and listen and see what God has in store.

You can find out the rest of the story and read a follow up to this post here.

15 February 2013

Humidity For Sleep, Breathing & Beauty

image via Amazon

As I mentioned a few weeks ago I destroyed my last humidifier. I was so dumb and tried to pour water in the wrong way just because I was being lazy and...there went a $100 humidifier. To make matters worse I took it to a local fix-it shop and after months of calling to check on the status, someone other than the owner finally answered and told me that if I hadn't heard back from them by now my item had probably gone into the trash long ago. Glad I didn't pay anything in advance. Sheesh!

So a couple of weeks ago I took my trusty twenty-percent off coupon over to Bed, Bath and Beyond and picked up a new Venta Sonic Humidifier. It has been a dream. It helped me get through my month of sickness and I wake up every morning breathing freely and I know I'm sleeping better at night. The increase in humidity may help stop or reduce snoring too. It's quiet and puts out a very fine, cool mist.  It will also do warm mist if you want that, but I never use that feature so I can't report on that. It's not like some humidifiers that make everything around you feel wet by morning.

Once I got the humidifier my health returned to normal pretty quickly after that. I'm not saying it healed me but I think it made a difference in helping my body heal itself. The humidity opened up my passages, loosened mucus and allowed me to breath easier. That in turn helped me to sleep longer and more deeply.

Humidifiers are amazing for the skin too. My skin has never looked more amazing than on a misty day in Scandinavia. All that humidity plumps up the skin and brightens the cheeks. I think it helps cut down on the fatty creams one needs on the face as well. I definitely can feel a difference in how my skin feels when I wake up in the morning.

I'm loving having a humidifier again. I wish I hadn't waited so long to replace the one I broke. Just getting in bed, turning it on and inhaling the mist starts getting me relaxed for bedtime. If you're having problems sleeping, wake up stuffy or are having serious health problems a humidifier might be a nice blessing.

14 February 2013

Valentine's Day Heart Garlands

Happy Valentine's Day. Hope you have a sweet day in every way. Using my favorite new paper punch and a roll of hemp twine and sparkly, silver ribbon I whipped up a bunch of very simple little heart garlands to give to friends.

 I also couldn't help but string a few around the house to charm things up for the season on chests and bookcases.

One thing I love about garlands is that they are so easy to fold up and store year after year in a small envelope. For their simplicity and size they pack a cozy, friendly decorating punch.

Today I'm delivering a few cookies and garlands to neighbors and friends. I'm not sure what we're going to do to celebrate Valentine's Day without The Man yet. I'm thinking about pancakes, strawberries and whipped cream for dinner. Festive in color, frilliness and delicious in taste. I've been trying to eat really well so today the gift I'm getting is that I'm allowing myself to eat some sweets: chocolates, cookies, etc. 

Hope your day is warm and charming, spent with people you love. I hope you get the chance to share your love today too. Happy Valentine's Day!

all images by kalanicut

13 February 2013

Planning Happy Crafts Projects With Kids

When you are planning crafts projects with children I have found there are a few important things to consider. Some years ago I founded a children's art program in my hometown. It was a great adventure in planning and executing crafts projects with a room full of kids. I have learned that anything you do will take them longer than it takes you. At some point they will get distracted and either start making messes or disturb everyone else in the room.

So when I decided to help The Bug make the Wild About You Valentine's posted in 2010 by Gabby Blair of DesignMom, I started my preparations just after I dropped The Bug off at school yesterday morning. Earlier today I posted on where I sourced everything for this project. Check it out here to save you time and money.

Here are the first things that guided my planning. Initially I thought she would love to go with me to pick out all the animals and such and then I realized that would be another hour or more of time added to the project. She's generally a little tired, hungry and fussy the first thirty minutes after school. She needs a break. Running errands with her after school is not a break for her or for me.

School nights are a tight squeeze. Even though she's home from school at 3:00, by the time I let her unwind for an hour, help her do some "must" like clean her room or pick up her stuff from around the house or take a bath, start dinner while directing the completion of homework, eat and clean the kitchen and then immediately get her ready for bed the night is gone. It's amazing that if we aren't eating dinner at 6:00 I know already that we won't make bedtime at 8:00.

So mix in a major shortage of time and a girl who has already had a long day and still has lots to do before bedtime and it became pretty clear that a long drawn out craft shopping trip and activity was the last thing either of us needed. Most of the time any craft project that takes more than an hour at a sitting is going to be a little too much for kids, especially if they are tired or rushed. I came up with a plan that I thought we could accomplish in just about an hour so that we could keep it fun, moving quickly and we'd see quick results.

Here's how I made it easy:

1) Did my research. Read the instructions thoroughly and to make sure this was a project we could handle. Sometimes things that look easy or should be easy with kids are the complete opposite, so I thought this one through.

2) Made a quick list of supplies and necessary shopping stops. This included counting up how many of each type of animal I would need and how many print outs of the cards I would need.

3) Gathered all the supplies. I hit all the shops early in the day. Crowds were light and I got things done quickly. One stop to the party store for animals sold individually and for small candy bags. Then a quick trip to a copy store allowed me to get the tags copies on a heavy, glossy cover paper for a great professional look.

4) Took all the tags off all the animals. This is something she could've easily done. However I could totally see this taking 30 minutes alone if she stopped to play with each animal as she we removed the tag from -- which she would.

5) Cut and trimmed all the tags. A paper cutter makes this much quicker and easier than a pair of scissors.

6) Used a bone folder and a straight edge to score and fold all the tags. A bone folder is a great way to score paper so that you get a beautiful, professionally clean fold.

At this point I was done with my preparations and I very deliberately saved specific tasks for The Bug. 

Here's what she did.

7) Organized the bag of animals, lining them up by type.

8) Organize the corresponding cards to the correct animals.

9) Choose the card and animal she wanted to give to each student as we went down the list of her classmates.

10) Filled out each card with TO: and FROM: salutations. She did this while I put the animals in the bags, feet down, and then I stapled each filled out card to the bag. Then I put each finished Valentine in a handled paper bag she can carry them in to school. 

I couldn't help but also do a little upcycle on the paper shopping bag we were reusing to make it a special Valentine's Bag. I'll share that with you tomorrow. Also, I have to confess that I broke down and made sugar cookies after all. When I thought about how much I was going to spend buying a few I realized I could easily make a small batch that would be tons cuter and much less expensive. Because it's not Valentine's Day without a good sugar cookie!

What fun last minute projects are you up to today and tomorrow? I have to say I'll be a little sad to see Valentine's Day and all it's fun details pass this year. But happily we have bright and colorful Easter coming up. I already have some easy fun crafty projects in the works for Easter which I'll share in a few weeks.

all images by kalanicut

Valentines For The First Grade Class

The Bug has never been a girl who loves dolls. She has always been crazy about wild animals and dinosaurs. So I was so grateful to remember these awesome Wild Animal Valentines created by Design Mom Gabrielle Blair which she posted on her blog two years ago. She even followed up her original post with a .pdf file of the cards.

Gabrielle's tutorial will give you all the critical info, but I thought I would share some info on our process. This morning I'll give you all my sourcing info and later today I'll post on how to simplify crafting projects like this for kids. UPDATE: Here's the link to keeping it simple post.


Cards: Download the .pdf right here at Gabby's blog DesignMom. I didn't have any gloss cover paper at home, so I took the file to Staples and had them copy it for me onto gloss cover paper. Quick & easy. I think these were about $1 per sheet, $7 total.

Animals: Party City has a bin where you can pick and choose the animals you will need and pay for them individually rather than buying a pack of miscellaneous wild animals at most stores and having to pick out the ones you need. Each animal cost 35 cents.

Bags: These are the candy bags you can get in the cake decorating aisle. There are 50 to a pack and they only cost a couple of dollars.

If you're still looking for a fun school Valentine's Day card this is a good one. It is a good last minute project because nothing you need is so Valentine-y that it will already be sold out or in short supply. If you try these, I'd love to know and see how they turn out.

Today I am visiting a favorite catering company hidden away away in a commercial back alley near my house. They actually have a nice little cafe there and bakery. I am going to skip making Valentine's cookies this year and just go buy a few from the bakery there.

It's not Valentine's Day without a good sugar cookie in my book. I also have a little bag of chocolates a lovely neighbor gave me that I am saving for the day. We are glad to know that both our boxes with Valentine's gifts have reached The Man. He will have some fun things to snack on and enjoy. We sent him a giant Reese's Peanut Butter Cup heart along with lots of other treats, little cards, a heart garland and some of his favorite chips.

What are your favorite Valentine's Day treats? Are you into jewelry, flowers, chocolates, singing telegrams or proposals on billboards?

12 February 2013

Appreciating The Little Things

image via

Yesterday was a pretty long and crummy day which lead to a night of bouncing between fear and trying to count my blessings and have faith that all will be well. We all have those days and nights, don't we? While I was cleaning the kitchen after our small and simple dinner the thought came to my mind, "Isn't it so awesome that it's winter and there are no fruit flies in the kitchen."

I'm not sure where that came from but suddenly I was thinking about how awful the fruit flies are here all summer long. How nice it is that there aren't any now. I have been leaving fruit out on my counter with our unusually cool winter and have not had to deal with one fruit fly. That is such a happy thing.

Then I was throwing away some food from the fridge and though how nice it is that the trash will not get hot and super stinky really fast. I could wait until morning to take it out. Gross I know, but grosser still are hot summer days with fruit flies all over the trash can and having to take it out every time you put something in there that they will like or that will quickly start to smell bad. Non-stinky trash, another very happy thing that winter makes more likely.

I realized I was counting small blessings -- the presence of winter and the absence of fruit flies and stinky trash. But how nice it was to not have either of those problems right now. As I continued cleaning, sweeping and mopping the kitchen I thought about how many small but grand things I have to be thankful for every day and what a blessing it is to my life to recognize and appreciate them each day.

Some days the only thing you might be able to find to be grateful for in the end might be having no fruit flies, but however small, there are beautiful blessings in our lives every day. Do you have any crazy little thing you that is really blessing your life today?

11 February 2013

Getaway Day At The Getty

Last Saturday I got to go on my first school field trip as a mom. It was my first time on a school bus since high school and I don't remember it being such a tight fit. I had to sit sideways because my knees would not fit in the seats. Ouch. But I was so glad we didn't have to drive or park, we just walked to the school and hopped on the bus and were there in just a few minutes.

We are so lucky to live in a big city with so many amazing things to do and places to see within minutes of our house. The Getty Center complex is visible from our neighborhood and one of the best places to visit in Los Angeles. The gorgeous architecture, gardens, world-famous art, great food, and fantastic views of Los Angeles guarantee a fantastic day, rain or shine. We got lucky and the weather was quite amazing. The lighting was great for photography too. Thought I'd share some of the lovely views.

The Getty is a fantastic place to take visiting friends, in fact I just took our house guests two weeks ago. It's also a great place for a date. It's where The Man and I went on our first date on a Saturday afternoon in May 2008. It's also a wonderful evening destination and open late on Fridays.

Kids love The Getty too, because right off the bat you get to take an awesome tram ride up the mountainside to the museum. The Getty has a great family space where kids can wander through a maze of fun interactive activities and a charming Children's Museum store where parents can buy a little something for the kids without breaking the bank. Prices there start at about one dollar and there are lots of cool things for less than $10.

The trees were still pretty bare but the flowers are starting to bloom. The tulips look like they are just a few days away from their glorious, but short-lived blooms. It was so gorgeous outside.

We started with art, then the deck views of Los Angeles and Santa Monica Bay. Then we wandered the gardens, dodging bees, inhaling the wonderful scent of the Angel's Trumpets and enjoying the meditative circular path walk. A stop at the kid's museum store landed us a small treat for The Bug, then we enjoyed a fantastic lunch on the cafe terrace. I have to say Getty Center, you make a killer Rice Krispy Treat. Wow.

We had just enough time to visit the Family Room for a few minutes and then pick up the fun free gift they gave to the school kids at the front desk and then walk back to the tram for the fun ride back down the hill. It was fun to see The Bug sit next to two cute boys from her class while they ooohed and aaahed at the views all the way back down. It makes me so happy to see her so happily settled here now and so enjoying her life.

Hope you enjoyed coming along on our field trip. I was so glad we went. It was just the right amount of time. It was so easy and I am so pleased with the new school, staff and families.

all images by kalanicut

08 February 2013

Updating The Jewelry Collection

images via Banana Republic

Hello lovely people. Hope you are well. The days seems to be going by enjoyably and quickly this week. I have run into a growing dilemma as I have been outfitting myself each morning lately. I have had an amazing earring collection for the past eight or nine years. I had so many pretty pairs that I quit buying earrings because I couldn't wear them all enough. Well the tide has turned and suddenly all those pretty earrings seem to be falling apart at the same time. Jewels have fallen out, earring backs have been bent around so many times they've lost their shape or are totally bendy now.

So I decided it was time to refresh my jewelry wardrobe, particularly my earrings. Buying jewelry is fun. You never have to try it on or ask for a bigger size. You can find hundreds of options just by visiting a few department stores. One of my favorite places to buy jewelry is Macys. As it turns out, Macy's is having a big jewelry sale right now and the discounts look pretty substantial. There is always a massive selection, something on sale and you can often find great deals there.

Another favorite jewelry stop is Banana Republic. Their well-edited collections have something for everyone and every occasion. Here are four pairs from Banana Republic that I thought would be great additions to my jewelry wardrobe:

Bamboo Hoops -- classics that would go with just about anything

Green Chandeliers -- a cheery pop of spring. I just imagine for some reason that these would look crazy good on a girl with blue or green eyes. But they would look fantastic on a brown-eyed brunette too.

Orange Hoops -- they're orange for starters, so they're a hit right off the bat. Great classics that would go so well with every neutral.

Holiday Lights Chandeliers -- these caught my eye at Christmas and I almost bought them. They're still on my mind and we know what that means. So beautiful. I love the mix of crazy sparkle with a dash of brooding dark gray to them.

When it comes to earrings I can be a little picky. I'm big on fish hook backs, hate studs and need a little dangle in my earrings. And I always have to have a bag of plastic earring backs in my drawer and they go on every pair that needs them, every day. Do you have a favorite pair of earrings right now? Do you only wear certain styles? I'd love to hear what's going on with you and earrings right now.

07 February 2013

Fiskars Heart Paper Punch: Favorite New Craft Tool

image via Widget Supply

A few weeks ago we made one of those excited, pre-holiday trips to the craft and fabric store. My mind was all abuzz with Valentine's Day craft projects. We left the store with the most delightful stack of little treasures and a receipt for a bill that was probably about double what I was intending to spend initially. We bought pretty ribbons, hearts, a big beautiful stack of festive papers and my splurge was this Fiskars heart paper punch.

Now we have definitely made good use of our purchases and the paper punch, the one thing I felt I could least justify buying, has turned out to be one of the best craft investments I have made in a long time. You can see all the great features in this video - it's a paper saver too!  A lot of thought actually goes into the design of these Fiskar punches, I was surprised to learn. I have to say too that this is so easy to use compared to all the other paper punches I own. I'm sold on this easy squeeze action instead of the variety that require you to bang down on them repeatedly with your hand. The punched paper also clears out of this punch very easily which has never been the case with other brands I have purchased.

I have been making lots of paper heart garlands to give as Valentines to friends, to send in The Man's V-day care package and to decorate bookshelves and the mantle. You can see the mantle garland here. This punch is so easy to use, I now have pretty stacks of hearts all over my table in the prettiest pinks, reds and purples. While this was an expensive little treat, I got it at a discount using a coupon and I am so happy I grabbed it. Hearts are so universal I can enjoy using it all year long. I'm looking forward to all the projects I can come up with using my new handy dandy paper punch.

Have you made any tool purchases that you regretted for a bit until you realized how much you would use them and how easy they made things? What was the tool?

06 February 2013

Etsy Valentines For My Fun, Quirky Family

images via Etsy

Every holiday season I love to visit Etsy to see all the amazing creativity that flows there. Needless to say my socks were charmed off by all the many unique gifts I found that would be so perfect for all my favorite Valentines. Hare are four that are just perfect for my little family and I had to share them with some serious enthusiasm.

1) Felted Wool Valentine's Sheep -- I have a thing for small animal sculptures, particularly made of fabric or wood. Felted wool sheep, I mean seriously, how cute are these.  I love how they are posed in the photo. They are actually called Shades of Gray sheep but that just totally tarnishes the whole cuteness to me, so I can't think about that. (Big smile.) But I do love them. They are made by Lisa, of Bondurant Mountain Art in Harrisburg, Virginia.

2) Romantic Art Block -- The Man and I have had this exact conversation too many times to count. Sweet to have a little desk side reminder. These are made by John Golden, Wilmington, North Carolina.

3) Narwhal -- Okay this would be the one gift I would go insane for. The message is customizable, although the deadline for a V-day delivery is passed. But this certainly could be adapted to anything and everything. Just today The Bug and I were reading about Narwhals in a book and then acted out the Narwhal scene from the movie Elf.

Narwhal: Bye Buddy. Hope you find your dad.
Buddy: Thanks Mr. Narwhal.

So Mr. Love Narwhal here couldn't be more up my alley right now and I think I'm going to own one in the very near future. Wish I could get him super sized. Darling love Narwhal is made by Armadillo Dreams, Dustin and Amanda Cowell, Redmond, Oregon.

4) Customizable Leather Bracelet -- Again I love that you can put anything here you want. Coordinates to home, secret code love messages or whatever quirky love sayings you have in your family. I'm a big sucker for dark brown leather and gray or silver metal together. Would love seeing this wrapped around The Man's wrist while I was holding his hand which I sorely miss doing. Dakota Designs is the shop that sells these bracelets, owned by Summer McDowell, Kansas City, Missouri.

I'm hoping to have a chance to post a few more Etsy features before Valentine's Day. Here are links to past posts I've done on all the beautiful February 14 inspirations on Etsy.

04 February 2013

Taking Time To Breath & Connect With Yourself

Last week I started getting the hang of this new life that has started since the beginning of the year. One of the things I realized I was really missing was meditation, inspiration and quiet time. It was stunning how good it felt to slow down for a few minutes each day to breathe, be still and read something inspiring. Life changing!

It's amazing how it upped the energy, mental health and outlook. Taking a few minutes to be still, be with alone with yourself and listen to your thoughts really gives the soul air to breath, the ability to calm down and proper, calm perspective about life.

It seems like our good habits for these things often go out the window at the holidays and it takes a while to get back in sync. It makes sense that we are often stressed and sick in the month of January when many of us are tired and in a low energy place after the holidays. We are often so busy during the holidays that we don't take two seconds to hear our own selves think for half the month of December.

I've written about this many times. It's an ongoing challenge, one of those things we have to continue and continue to try to master. A vacation, being sick, a holiday, house guests - all these things and many others can throw us off our usual routine and healthy habits.

I have been meditating in the evenings, leaving the TV off and reading inspiring books after dinner and trying to connect with myself every day. It feels so good to get back in touch with me and feel flow rather than tight muscles in my neck and an unpleasant sense of over-busyness every day. When I connect with myself I enjoy my day, am more efficient and feel a lot calmer.

Here are a few other posts about taking time to breath, think and connect with ourselves that might give you more inspiration to find that time each day to breathe and be. Hope you get a chance to do that today!

01 February 2013

Taking A New Neighbor On A Tour of Our Town

images by kalanicut

I met a new neighbor this week who has just moved to our BIG city. In our conversation about her first days here in Los Angeles, I was reminded how overwhelming it can be to move here. At least when you move to New York you can walk and adventure your way around on foot to get to know that big city but in LA you have to drive and that is it's own scary adventure, let alone dealing with parking everywhere you go.

So I decided we should pick up our new friend tomorrow and take her on a little tour of our city and help her find all the fun spots and the best place to park in all those places. We are looking forward to it and glad to be able to help simplify her getting settled process. Here are a few places we'll try to introduce her to:
  • Farmer's Market locations & days (we have lots of these, almost one every day within 2 miles)
  • Best beach spot & free parking areas and inexpensive but fast parking areas
  • Fun parks & gardens
  • Best neighborhoods to walk & wander
  • Cheap eats & great local hangouts
  • Must have resources: hardware store, garden shop, etc.
And we're going to give her a map with spots highlighted so that she can start feeling more comfortable wandering around the city. Now that we're doing this once, I am going to try to be more mindful of new neighbors and how they feel moving to a big, new, expensive and sometimes frustrating city. I remember when I first moved here it was pretty overwhelming. It's so easy to forget that when you've been here for a while and everything has become second nature to you.

So if you have a new neighbor that comes to your town, think about taking them on a "My City 101" tour to help them get the lay of the land and start feeling comfortable in their new surroundings. Some people are just naturally adventurous and can't wait to jump into their new city, for other people, they can use all the help you can give them. Moving is exhausting and overwhelming enough, so anything you can do to help the transition a peaceful one is a blessing for sure.

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