30 September 2013

Personalized Ink Stamps From Paper Source

images via Paper Source

Hi! So happy to spend a few minutes with you. Over the weekend I got an email from Paper Source. That is always a fun thing, guaranteed there will be something pretty and inspiring to look at. They had added new personalized ink stamps to their collection - AND - free shipping is available until October 6.

These personalized ink stamps make such a cute gift and look oh, so cool on any mail or envelope that leaves your front door! I have always wanted one of these, but have never been permanent enough in any one address to feel like it was worth the investment. I can still dream though. I couldn't resist looking through their collection. There really are so many different styles, there's something for everyone.

Here are four favorites of mine.  For us, these four definitely had military family living in the big city written all over them.

Favorite Anchor Stamp: This is if far and away my favorite. I love the simple, clean lines, the mix of fonts and of course the anchor. This had my little family written all over it. Now if we just had an address that we know we'll be at for a while. I don't think it's the one we're at right now.

Skyline:   Sometimes I honestly forget that we live in the heart of one of the biggest, busiest cities in the country. Sure we don't get real sunsets but we sure do have a lot of tall buildings around. I love a simple outline of a skyline. I used to draw these kinds of drawings for the little girl I babysat during college. This reminds me of those days.

Big City Stamp:  This is super clean and simple. I like the city initials in big, bold letters. I think LA would look very cool on this stamp.

Ocean Waves: This beauty definitely hints at an beachy vibe. I like the fluid, curving lines. An L.A. address would definitely look California Cool on this stamp.

Paper Source is such a great resource for all things pretty and paper related. I have spent hours wandering around and around in different Paper Source locations and on their website. On their site they have awesome tutorials and a list of great classes and activities in their stores too. It's a great time to go in and wander and get ideas for the holiday season. If you're looking for a great gift for Christmas, consider a personalized ink stamp. They make sending out mail so much cheerier. Maybe imagine a stamp like this for yourself for your pretty Christmas cards.

27 September 2013

Fashion Basics To Fall Back On

image via

I thought it would be fun to look back at some of the fall fashion posts I've done over the past years. I always find some inspiration when I look back and often see ways I can update or reinvent something from a past season. Follow the links below for more info and images on all these fall favorites.

The Best of Boden Coats and Jackets 2011 still holds its weight. I would wear every one of these beautiful, statement making jackets and coats. Gorgeous.

These 2011 Fall looks from Garnet Hill are definitely update worthy. A tweak here of there on these classic looks get me excited about boots, skirts and tights. 

Here are a few classics from Anthropology Fall 2010. Good, basic fall colors and pieces with Anthropologie's usual fun twist.

I still love this collection of colorful boots for fall and winter 2012. Most of these are styled for the long-range and totally carry over. These get me excited to do some winter travel.

These Six Great Boots (Fall 2011) still earn their spot with tights and a pretty wool skirt.

Sweaters, scarves, skirts and great bags always feel like fall to me. These beauties from Fall 2012 Boden make me want to sharpen pencils, kick leaves and head back to school.

Lastly here is my first Fall 2013 favorite fashions post. It took a turn for the cool this weekend. I made "warm" chocolate early one morning. Maybe someday soon I'll actually be able to put on a scarf and a few favorite fall fashions. Until then I'll be collecting lots of good ideas to make Fall 2013 fresh, inventive and fun.

26 September 2013

The Great Accomplishment Of The Weekend

image via

Saturday was the last day of Summer 2013. Sad to see it go, but as always excited for new adventures. Saturday afternoon The Bug and I spent an hour or so cleaning out the remains of this summer from my car. Since The Man came home is has been a disaster with a lot of stuff stacked in the back, an area we don't really use. I've had no time or energy to clean it up so finally I couldn't take it anymore. I hated that feeling of embarrassment and sadness that overcame me every time I approached my car.

First I tidied up the back hatch where all the emergency essentials and toys go. Then we tackled the worst mess, the folded down second seat and put the seat back up. It looks so nice now. Then we tacked the back seat where kiddo usually resides. The seat back pockets were tidied up and edited. Lots of little bits of trash were thrown away. Then we reorganized the cockpit, also known as grown up central.

Then we tackled the windows. They were a mess. Unfortunately in our parking garage my car is right next to the west facing windows where all the dirty air blows in on ocean breezes every day. The left side of my car is always covered in a fine gunky silt. So frustrating to try to keep the car clean.

I am so happy that the car is clean and organized inside. Now I can just take it over for a good washing on the outside. Then it needs to go to the shop to find out how long it has to live. We know there are a couple of serious issues but we don't know if they are "time to get a new car" or "time to pay for some big repairs" issues.

But at least until we know one way or the other, I'll be a lot happier with the car clean. It's good to get another long over due take off my back this weekend. I've been so busy and thus so tired that I haven't been able to focus on some of these projects that really matter to me. It's great to see some progress and have the energy to work on things that just require physical labor and not a lot of mind-bending concentration. Sometimes just good hard work is so good for the soul.

If you are looking for some good car organization tips here are a few good resources:

Car Organization
Kids & Car Organization
Family Car Organization Tips

25 September 2013

Tote Bag Dreams Fall 2013

I am still looking for a "just right" purse for me. My preferences seem to change by season. Right now all I can think about it is aged or vintage brown leather totes. They just speak school, fall, leaves, sweaters and tights to me. Here are a few favorites from my Pinterest Board Totally Totes with original links.

top left: Naysa Leather Shopper via ASOS
top right: Harness Tote via Stacy Leigh at Etsy
bottom left: Simple, Classic via Brown Dress With White Dots
bottom right: Aged Natural Leather Tote via Dapprly

Do you get dreamy over leather at this time of year? So you have a favorite leather tote?

24 September 2013

I Love Feeling Fall Creep In

image via

Fall is one season we don't get a lot of here in SoCal. Okay, who am I kidding. We generally have one season, calm summer. It's 68-73 degrees, sunny, with a lovely ocean breeze most of the time. But one does miss the more powerful change of season in more northerly climates at times.

August and September are usually our hottest months, our full-bore summer weather. So it's been quite lovely to feel fall sneaking in the past few days. Here's how I know it's really fall even if the days are still warm and sunny.

Saturday morning I was up very early. It was cool enough to make "warm" chocolate. I didn't heat the milk up too hot, just nicely warm. It was delicious and soothing and calming...all the things a good warm chocolate should be with a touch of vanilla and salt. So lovely. Then Sunday I spent the afternoon at friends' house and sat out in the mellow fall sun all afternoon catching up with dear ones. It was just the right amount of lovely, not too hot, just cozy.

Monday morning just before five I woke up feeling very cold. Haven't felt that in a LONG time. I got up and pulled the down comforter out of the closet and wrapped it all around me like a fur coat and dreamily went back to sleep. Two hours later I was dying and way too hot, but for a while it was wonderful to be bundled up and again...cozy.

Later that morning when I woke up I pulled on sweat pants and a cardigan sweater and happily wasn't a bit uncomfortable even though it was a sunny day. Another sign the seasons are changing. A couple of hours later when I finally decided to eat breakfast, what did I want? Hot cereal, a big bowl of oatmeal. Haven't wanted that since last winter. Cozy cereal for a cozy  morning.

So even though we are still wearing tee shirts, flipflops and short skirts and won't have changing leaves or be wearing delicious wool tweeds, tights and knee-high boots anytime soon, it's a joy to find small signs of fall here in our beautiful oceanside city.

A Pin Test # 14: Toilet Paper Roll Halloween Bats

It's Pin Test #15 and I am for some reason in total denial about the season. I haven't taken down any summer decor and seem to be refusing to realize it's late September and Halloween is just a few weeks away. So while looking for a Pin Test for this week I decided to break down and do a Halloween craft. I thought it would be fun to make small bats that we could hang from the tree near our front door. This pin comes from LaDeeDa Creations blog. There is a great tutorial there with full directions for the project. They are actually filling theirs with candy & gluing paper across the bottom. We're leaving ours hollow to hand up.

I short circuited the project significantly by using black glitter construction paper, glue and googly eyes, no paint. Here were my steps:

1) Gather toilet paper rolls
2) Cut black construction paper to length and width to cover the toilet paper roll.
3) Using a glue stick cover the inside of the paper then glue it onto the roll, sealing the edge securely with glue.
4. Bend back of top edge in forward, then bend front top edge back to create pointy ears.
5. Cut a 2" wide strip of construction paper the length you want for your wings. Ours are about 10 inches.
6. Fold the strip in half, so you have a strip about 5" long by 2" wide.
7. Cut three small half circles out of the bottom edge of the 5" long side
8. Unfold and glue the wings firmly to the back of the bat
9. Attach googly eyes to the front, to create a face.

Here are our finished products.

This is a great project for little kids. For an adult it takes about five minutes to create the bat body and wings. The really aggravating part is trying to get the backing off the googly eyes to stick them on. Super frustrating and took me longer than all the rest of the construction combined. (snarl). It might be easier to just use paint or black and white paper cute in small circles or ovals. But I wanted the three dimensional eyes that moved so I paid the price and finally got them on.

I am thinking of making a few of these and hanging them from the tree out front. They would also be cute on a garland of some sort or a group of them hanging on a vertical cord on the front door. The Bug mentioned that you could also easily make cats with this method. Just add a upside triangle nose, whiskers and a tail instead of the wings. We'll definitely try that out too. She's pretty jazzed about collecting toilet paper cardboard cores now. lol.

You'll have fun with these and no matter which technique you use. The cost to make these is very little. Have fun. Pin Test #15 is in the books, recorded as a success. If you decide to make these bats or cats please post a photo or let me know how it went!

Here are are two other really cute Halloween decorating ideas that we want to try. They both involve glow sticks which we have an abundance of around here and are quite fond of.

23 September 2013

Finishing Long Overdue Projects

I am taking a break from completing a long overdue project to write this post. My fingertips are cut up and sore and it was a good time for a break. I'm about seventy percent done now with a project I have had laying around for a while that I determined I would finally finish. I started this project at least a year ago and it has been getting in my way and moved around and around since then.

A couple of seasons ago it seemed that all the cotton shirts has elastic shirring in the waist. I bought a few thinking, against my better judgment that I wouldn't hate them. This is despite the fact that I've always hated waistbands in shirts because they are always too short for me. So I ended up getting rid of some of them, but there were a couple I thought would be cute if I took the elastic out of the waist. Sounded simple enough. A few minutes with a seam ripper. Not so. I started on two shirts just cutting the threads with my seam ripper ever inch or so, thinking I could easily pull the thread. No, it was a monumental task. So far I've spent at least a couple of hours on one blouse alone and still have a good, long way to go.

But it feels good to just jump on the task and complete it. There comes a time when you really just have to decide "Am I going to do this project or just get rid of the item." I'm in one of those moods and wanting to simplify yet again. You may remember that last Spring I went through the entire house reorganizing everything. Well, within weeks of The Man returning from his year away, most of my work was totally and completely undone. So, things are feeling more disorganized than ever. Super...

Finishing or getting rid of projects I'm not that serious about are two ways I can make some headway in feeling more organized and simplified. Keeping ahead of the wave of stuff that seems to accumulate in a home often seems impossible. Just the number of papers that come in the mail and home from school every week creates a small mountain.

I'm so happy to get this shirt done. I still don't know if it's really going to work once I take out the elastic, but I'll know soon. If it doesn't work, it can go into the thrift store donation box and I'll have one less item in the house. Great options, either way.

Do you have unfinished projects like this around your house? How does it make you feel when you finish one?

21 September 2013

Life Without Cable or Satellite TV

So we have been without cable or satellite, which basically means without TV since May. I know there are lots of people out there who are considering how they will adapt their entertainment expenditures in light of the constantly rising costs of cable/satellite service. Plus there is so much new technology available for home entertainment viewing. I thought it might be good to put together a post with a realistic evaluation of how it's been.

First I'll start with the Cons. I have to say that we have never been big TV viewers, but I did work in the TV industry and at one point having a great cable package was a great tax write off. We were a clan that watched mainly eight to ten of the several hundred stations stations and I think I can honestly say we really still miss those channels. We also missed all the stuff we lost on TiVo that kept for quite a while when we had satellite TV service. It's a bummer when there is a big event on cable, like a sports event, season premiere, etc. I still have a season of a cable favorite show I'm hoping will become available free sometime soon somewhere. We have definitely missed TV in some ways.

The other big con is that an antennae does do much in the way of reception when you live in a crowded urban area. It's impossible to get good antennae reception even with it in the window. So we really don't watch regular free TV. The other con is that the big TV in our living room is an old one. We were kind of waiting for it to die, which it seemed like it would at any moment, before we invested in a new large TV. It still hasn't died, but to watch anything other than DVDs on it we would need a converter box and an antennae, which is totally not a great investment at this point. I'd much rather put that $75 towards the cost of a new TV. So we rarely every watch anything in our living room.

We did invest in Netflix, which is just $8 a month. We have access to a lot of television series and a decent number of movies. If we are going to view anything, it's usually on Netflix. We have an HDMI cord that we can use to attach the laptop to the TV in the bedroom, which is only a couple of years old and has all the update technology.

Watching TV shows on network websites has proven to be frustrating because there are so many interruptions/commercials and there are often an annoying number of breaks in the connection and buffering. I have also found that even with the big networks their online video is poorly organized. For instance I was trying to watch one TV series and at the end of each episode the previous episode in chronological order would load, meaning one you watched before, rather than the episode that would come next. Annoying.

I've taken the opportunity to watch a few series on Netflix that I would recommend like Parenthood and Friday Night Lights. The Man has seemed to find enough entertainment on Netflix to fill his viewing and relaxation time as well. The Bug has access to all the kid shows she likes on Netflix, PBS kids or YouTube.

I really miss HGTV and Food Network, I'll say that. There are a lot of episodes online but it's not the same as knowing you can turn in on a certain night for your favorite show or catch a marathon. I also miss catching movies on satellite. Watching everything on the computer screen or the small, newer TV in the bedroom is a bit of a let down. But other than that, I'm not missing much having no TV access. We definitely don't miss the $80 or more a month satellite bills.

I do like that we are less inclined to turn the TV on and just sit in the living room watching TV for hours. It doesn't get turned on and then stay on at night. I think we do more with our time and having nightly kiddo homework and bedtime come just at that time of night after dinner where the TV often gets turned on in most homes anyway.

So we've saved a lot of money and are no worse for wear. It's a hard thing to let go of, but in the end I think it was a great decision and hasn't been that missed. How about you? Have you  "cut the cord" or are you thinking about it? What motivated you to do it or what is keeping you from pulling the plug? I find it is such a personal decision and I enjoy hearing other's perspectives. Where are you in the TV or no TV universe?

18 September 2013

The Fever To Redecorate The Entire House

Oh dear, a sickness has entered our home. Thankfully I believe I am the only one who will come down with it. Then maybe it would be better if everyone got it -- it would be an easier and faster healing process. Some people are a little too averse to change around these parts. I've got the fever.....to redecorate the entire house.

Maybe you've had this fever. One day you wake up and perhaps you are reading an inspiring decor blog or looking at a great magazine full of gorgeous images of lovely, tidy, perfectly organized and decorated homes. Suddenly your head starts to spin, your breath becomes shallow and you find yourself pacing around the house. You look at everything that you are tired of, the rumpled pillows and couch cushions and the stuff that just can't seem to find a home. You look at the mantle decor you've had for the past few months and you want to throw it all out the balcony. You want new furniture, new art, new bedding, flooring, and wall paint.

You start moving things around. You find a bookshelf or front entryway that must immediately be torn apart and redone in a new refreshing way. You start moving plants around the house, curated shelves and dresser tops are next. Soon the entire house is a bigger disaster when you started but you start to feel like your lungs are opening up. You stop hating all your belongings and you start seeing things with fresh eyes. You move the couch, flip some chairs to the other side of the room and switch around the large art on the walls. You pile all your tchotchkes on the dining table and start repositioning them in new ways in new groupings and new locations.

Hours later you are healed with a new lease on life. The surface dust and mental dust has all been removed and you sit, exhausted, realizing how much you actually love the things you own. You see your style, the reasons you bought and hang onto those exact belongings. Now there is one last thing to do. Sit back in your lovely arm chair, the one with the now fluffed up cushions, that faces a new and inspiring direction looking out the window and sip on a nice tall lemonade. You've earned it. You're well. All is well with the world again.

Have you ever had one of these days, or weeks? I woke up this morning just desperate to shake up the entire house. I took down everything off the mantle, I cleaned our living room fan (a must-have item to keep things cool), started moving tchotchkes and plants around. I dusted. Nothing is back the way it should be, but I feel a little better and I see a weekend of moving things around coming my way. I know that will drive The Man crazy to have things switched around, he never likes that. But honestly I feel like it's one of those things a man has to concede to a woman if he wants her to stay sane. Kind of like how I endure the loud military and action hero movies blaring through the house late at night, his need for a "real" dinner with meat every night...you know what I mean, right? It's give and take, baby!

So the writing is on the wall. The living room is going to different by Monday morning. I hope the front entry and bedroom will too. The Man is taking a bunch of his military/outdoors and other stuff to storage this weekend (do you see my tears of joy?!). I'd love to reclaim our front entryway which ended up being his dumping spot when he came home from a year away. (Sigh...) The dream of returning this place to a very open, spacious retreat-like oasis, rather than cramped, cluttered living space is becoming more visible. I'm excited!

What do you do when you catch the fever to redecorate? How long does it last? How deep do you go?

16 September 2013

Get Out There & Socialize

image by kalanicut

One thing I have noticed over the years it that fewer and fewer people are making plans with friends, inviting people to their homes or getting invited to other folk's homes. I hear this complaint often. I know some people who do invite people over who say they never get any invitations in return. So I'm throwing out a challenge to you today. Plan a social event. Do something with friends. Get together with people!

Last week friends of ours suggested getting together. Then proceeded the slightly uncomfortable dance of deciding what to do, when and what that meant. No one wants to step on anyone else's toes, make them feel uncomfortable or like they are being pushed into anything they don't really want to do. In the end we decided on a beach day. What we expected might be three or four hours at the beach ended up being a super fun day of biking to the beach, picnicking, playing smashball and frisbee, lounging in the sun and even catching several dozen crab-like creatures and building a small sand city with them that The Bug named Crabopolis.

No everything went totally smoothly. The husband of the other couple hurt his arm that morning so he needed to opt out of the bike ride. Then The Bug's tire went flat, so it turned out it was a great thing that we had a driver and car who could get us to the bike shop for a quick repair. Then we were on our way and no one was worse for wear although it delayed us a while.

When we got to the beach it was totally foggy and strange. It looked like we were on another planet. Later it cleared up and was absolutely perfect weather. We ate good food, had good chats, lots of laughs and a great bike ride on each end of the day.

We ended up making quite a day of it and had a lot of fun. By the end of the day we were all talking, planning other activities we could do together. Plus I was thinking about other people in our social circle that would be fun to include and get to know better.

It's easy to feel isolated when our world is so focused on work, busy-ness and communication via text message and social media. But getting together with people is awesome. I'm throwing out a challenge to you today to plan something, get out there and meet some new and interesting people. Get together with people who are of a different age bracket, who are and aren't married, who you have a lot in common with or have nothing in common with. It's a great adventure. I'm looking forward to our next get together with friends and won't let too much time go by before organizing something again soon.

13 September 2013

Filling Up One's Bucket

image via

Hello friends. I wanted to check in because it's been far too long since I was here with you. Things have gotten quite busy since since The Man returned earlier this summer and even busier since school started four weeks ago. We had such an early start to the school year which I don't like at all.

But thankfully that means that here in the middle of September we have settled into our school year routine, The Bug is in the flow with getting to bed on time, doing homework and making the most of having fun during free time. We started golf with her again this week so there is one more thing to add to the weekly calendar.

Added into all this have been a little vacation, as many fun family activities as we can cram in, doing a lot of work for custody issues, and a few outstanding health issues to still deal with. Then there are the housecleaning, car maintenance, bills and all those details that are so not fun to deal with. After a particularly demanding week I find my bucket a little empty.

More and more I am learning that life does not happen in big waves of lovely, easy days. Most days are challenging, tiring and at times very frustrating. Joy and happiness exist and can be found in the middle of all these things. A few minutes spent tickling and giggling on the bed, twilight at the park, watching a relaxing show or movie for a while, eating a great dessert, sharing a smile, laughing at a silly joke, taking a nice walk, watching a sunset, riding bikes, or talking about the day can make all the difference to help us feel happy in life.

This is where the good stuff is and it can, does and must co-exist with the tiring, frustrating, sad and heartbreaking if we are to find purpose and joy in life. It takes effort, a good attitude, faith and hope to press forward enjoying all of life's beauties.

I wish you a most lovely weekend of beauty in the midst of all the other things. I hope you have a few minutes to do something that brings you joy. Look for it. I promise it will be there waiting for you if you seek it out.

05 September 2013

A Pin Test #14: Favorite Arms & Abs Workout

image via

It's time for Pin Test #14. Here's a great workout for you, it's called WBFF Champion Andrea Brazier's Favorite Arms and Abs Workout. As you can see, she's pretty buff. But I figured if it gets her results it certainly can't hurt trying, right? I could definitely feel my abs after this workout and my arms were jelly.

It's a tough workout but one anyone can do. Sometimes there are moves in other workouts that are just impossible to do until you've worked up some muscle strength, but all of these are doable for most people right out of the gates, with the following caveat.

If you're in great shape you will probably be able to do the entire workout. For others who are just starting or restarting a workout habit, you can experiment doing fewer reps and sets and build up as you go. Obviously this is a routine that works for Andrea and she's in insanely amazing shape.

If you try it, let me know how it goes for you. I always like to hear back. I would say this was a Pin Test success. I'm looking forward to working it into my exercise regimen in the future.

04 September 2013

I'm Finding Joy And Pleasure Here...

Things have been busy lately and I have cut back a lot on my time online. Some of my favorite bloggers don't post much these days and other blogs I used to read have changed direction and tone and I find myself relating less and less. So I've been a bit adrift with my social media go-tos lately.

I thought I'd share sites I am finding are my regulars right now. They are all a bit different but inspire my mind in different ways.

1. Design Mom - I have always found Gabrielle Blair to be very likable because she is so down to earth. She shares her vulnerabilities and doesn't even attempt to pretend that her life is like a highly stylized, picture perfect magazine shoot every day. I love her living with children series, have enjoyed the adventures of her move from France to Oakland, CA recently and I like how she makes me think and creates conversations that a lot of people get involved in. Not only are her posts creative and wise but her readers are also full of great and helpful comments. I have found her blog quite comforting to me lately, relaxing, easy to read, calming...all that good stuff.

2. Little Green Notebook - I have mentioned it here before I think or at least on FB, but I am enjoying following along on another whirlwind home renovation by Jenny Komenda. She's crazy talented and creative. She comes up with the most innovative, money-saving design ideas. She's really quite amazing. Her family just moved to Arizona and are renovating a large home and doing much of the work themselves. It's stunning to see how she can turn a room around. It's inspiration every day. I like that she has a mix of easy DIY decor projects and mingles them with huge projects like paneling a room or doing wood floors.

3. Barefoot In The Kitchen - If you are in the Mom-zone these days like I am, you will find a lot of encouragement and acceptance of your imperfections with Stephanie. She inspires, encourages and includes delicious recipes, home decor projects and she has an awesome tutorial to teach you how to hem your own jeans too. If you're looking for a place where you can feel like you are doing great just as you are and always looking for ways to be just a little better each day, you might find a home at Barefoot In The Kitchen.

4. Mile Markers - I have mentioned Kristin Armstrong here quite a few times. Despite the happenings of the past year with her ex, I continue to find her thoughtful and inspiring. Her weekly postings at Runner World online are always a nod to good living, daily joy and overcoming struggles. I spent a little while catching up on her blog last night and found myself quite in the mood to go for a run and tackle life's challenges with a smile. I especially liked her post Unemcumbered.

I do love that the online world has grown into a place where I can stick with favorites, eat buffet style depending on the day or life circumstance or I can venture into new tastes that excite my palette. I am very interested in finding new inspiration and am taking small detoured links wherever I can to meet new faces and ideas. If you have any new blogs you are loving, please, please leave a comment below. I'd love to check them out.
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