30 April 2014

Spring Cleaning: The Wallet

You know how I complain frequently, haha, about how spring in LA is kinda crummy? Well it's been fine, cool, in the upper 60s I think, definitely sweater weather. And then yesterday we bust out a 90 degree day out of the blue - with a hot, creepy wind. So bizarre. Needless to say we hit the shave ice shop after dinner. My favorite: macadamia nut ice cream scoop, shave ice with watermelon, tiger's blood and coconut with snowcap (aka sweetened condensed milk drizzled on top.) It was so good but it sure went down fast when temps were so hot. The ice would instantly turn to liquid once it hit your mouth.

Another thing I did this week was spring clean my wallet. It was starting to get to the point where I couldn't snap it shut very easily. I found a lot of things I didn't need in there anymore, like an old insurance card and lots of receipts for things like food, gas and parking.

I organized the receipts I needed to save and happily threw the rest out. I also cleaned out the change purse -- all the quarters go to the laundry coin purse. I keep about three dimes in my wallet for a quick parking meter situation and then the rest goes into the loose coins jar.

Even though I frequently do a clean sweep of my wallet, it was amazing to pull everything out and find things that were long past needed in my wallet. It's a great place to do a little spring cleaning right now. Especially since it's something you use every day, that creates serious weight in the handbag and can easily get filled with junk. Have you cleaned out your wallet lately? What was the strangest thing you found there? What was the oldest, most unneeded thing you got rid of?

29 April 2014

Wisdom From The Past

I was doing some research on my blog recently and came across a few posts that reminded me of how I want to live my life, what I've learned and what's important in life. I thought I'd share a short list of those here for you today. An inspiration recap, if you will. Meanwhile, I'm scrambling out the door for a workout before a very busy afternoon. Hope you are having a great day. I am surely sending you my best wishes.

Things I Would Tell My Younger Self: Oh how much easier life would've been with these little tips under my belt. But we do all have to learn and grow, don't we.

Inspiration Comes To Clear & Quiet Minds. This is a good reminder today while I am trying to make a pretty risky, big decision. I think I know what to do, I feel pretty calm & sure about it, even with all the uncertainty...but I would like to know for sure.

Would the world be a nicer place if we all dressed a little nicer. I don't mean fancier clothes, I just mean clothing our bodies in more respectful ways with more self-care.

Five Things To Perk Up Your Life This Spring. Just like new plants bursting through the soil, I feel like every spring I just want to make a fresh start, shake things up, and shine up my world.

Are You Being Kind Enough To Yourself. I have learned that I get grumpy when I don't take care of myself. That means rest, good foods, down time, quietness, time to think, write, wander and do a little things that make me happy. If I don't take care of myself, everything else goes haywire pretty quickly.

Hope you find something here that makes you think, reminds you of your goals, makes you take a rest or eat a good healthy lunch. Even something as simple a new tube of lip gloss can make a day better. Make it a great one.

28 April 2014

Now Is My Time #17: Letting Go Of Unchangeables

A bunch of things that have happened this past week have me thinking about the importance of letting go of all the things we can't change in life. Carrying around dumb and disappointing experiences that have happened in life are just such a waste of our time and our energy. Wanting to live my best life, happy and healthy, letting go of little things I can't change seems to be a perfect part of my Now Is My Time challenge.

This Monday I am thinking about letting go of a few things. A really dumb comment I heard someone make that was totally inappropriate for the setting. (I smiled when two friends mentioned their offense to the same thing without me having said anything about it.) I am letting go of a conversation that I had hoped would be full of compassion and connection that ended up feeling very rushed and administrative. I am letting go of a judgmental comment aimed at me from someone who has no idea of the real situation.

I am letting go of disappointment in my fellow human beings. I am letting go of expectations for my life that have caused me frustration and have not come to fruition. I am letting go of inappropriate self-judgment. I am letting go of the word "failure" from my vocabulary. I am letting go of restraints that tell me it might not be the right time to go for my dreams. I am letting go of things, thoughts and actions that aren't worth the best use of my time and energy.

Oh how good it feels to unburden oneself from all the little things that could eat up so much time: being offended, being mad, being revengeful, disappointed, discouraged, frustrated, envious, bitter...there are just so many ugly feelings one can entertain in this life, justified as they very well are sometimes. But imagine the freedom, peace, happiness and strength that comes from disciplining oneself to let go of those things and live on a higher plane.

Imagine this week letting go of a handful of balloons filled with our disappointments and unchangeable burdens. What would be in your balloons?

image via mca

25 April 2014

Week Recap & A Little About Receiving Love

It's hard to believe the sun is setting on another week already. Where does the time go?! I read this morning that from a child's birth to 18 years old there are only 940 Saturdays. That makes the time seem quick, doesn't it.

I feel like I have not had a moment to catch my breath this week. Up early getting the little one off to school, busy all day trying to wrangle our world back into order after a really big and busy week last week -- and then up very late working on some projects. However this week feels like it's been even busier than last week and still with a lot of time in the car. Tomorrow is going to be another marathon driving day, will be putting a few hundred miles on the car and that's just driving circles around SoCal. Boo. But it will all be great when I've accomplished everything I have to do tomorrow.

Laundry isn't done, house still isn't back in order, -- although I do have one fabulously clean & organized storage closet & four loads of laundry partially done -- but we've had fun. My parents are in town and while we had scheduled what days we would see them and made plans all that has pretty much gone out the window and we've seen then every day while they've been here. Yesterday they just appeared at our door and we spent the afternoon and evening with them and went to the beach.

This photo above is from our lovely time watching the sunset with them at our local beach. Never, ever gets old. Amazingly good for the soul. I love seeing my mom at the beach. She grew up on a tropical island then moved to the mountainous desert for 40+ years. I know it does her soul good to stand with her feet in the sand -- And I love making that happen for her.

We weren't planning to see them today and as of five minutes ago we're going to leave in about an hour and drive up to see them and spend the evening. Should be fun. I know there will be some super yummy dinner involved. (smile.) I wanted to leave you with this beautiful quote from Rumi, that was part of the Oprah/Deepak Chopra 21-day meditation program Finding Flow this week. Gives me peace just reading it.

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself you have built against it.” —Rumi

I do believe that love is all around us if we will just open ourselves up to it. Nothing we want that has to do with love is very far away if we'll just let ourselves receive it and make the needed changes in ourselves to remove those barriers. God, people, animals and nature have so much love to give us every day if we'll just accept. Sending you warmest wishes for a great weekend! Thanks for coming by. I love connecting with you here.

24 April 2014

We Have So Much To Learn From Each Other

This is a simple something I created for this quote I heard recently. I'd actually heard it a couple of times but when I needed it, it really jumped out at me. I will just share two thoughts about this. First, I had an experience last week where I started comparing what I felt like I lacked in my life to what I thought others had (that of course I wanted.) That did not go well....at all.

It's easy to take the worst of our own lives and compare it to the best, most seemingly problem-free aspects of another's life. Not a valid comparison and not healthy. I believe the adage that if we could see other people's problems we would gladly rejoice in keeping our own instead. Comparison does bring jealous, resentment and massive feelings of failure and inadequacy. Avoid it at all costs.

Second, my life has been tremendously blessed by making friends of all different kinds of people -- People much older than me and now people quite a bit younger than me. I have become great friends with people I started out not like it all for silly reasons. I have learned that a diversity of friends means I get to have a diversity of experiences and learn from people who have all sorts of wisdom about life that blesses me. We do need each other!

So this is my encouragement to myself and to you. Compare less, love and bless more.

23 April 2014

Fun Items Posted For Sale on eBay Today

Its Christmas in April, haha. Hey just wanted to let readers know that I just posted a bunch of fun things for sale on eBay today. I am cleaning house literally and selling some great stuff I've had tucked away. Posted items include this Christmas-themed subway wall sign art, a beautiful vintage button collection, darling fleece fabrics, jewelry and several Martha Stewart glitter sets (12-packs & a 24-pack).

Check back again later this week because I still have a lot of things to post including some vintage floral frames, a never opened IKEA curtain set and some beautiful upholstery fabric. I'm also going to be posting some good books and back issue magazines up on Amazon soon. Stay tuned.

You can see everything currently on eBay right here.

LIfe Changing Idea: Serve Dinner On A Platter

image via kpbs.org

Many of you are probably familiar with Chef Lucinda Scala Quinn. She's part of the Martha Stewart Omnimedia clan, TV host, etc. I love to cook but I've never been into "the food world" much and so while I know the names of many of today's celebrity chefs I rarely turn my head when I see mention of them on TV or in a magazine. So it was unusual that yesterday I decided to read an article, while at the doctor's office, in the May 2012 issue of Martha Stewart Living about a day in the life of Lucinda Scala Quinn.

But how glad I am that I did because in one short sentence she said something that rocked my world and changed how I will do dinner from now on for probably the rest of my life. She said she serves all the food for dinner to the table on one large platter. Why have I never thought of that? Why have I been plating things up so often or putting everything on serving plates and in bowls when it totally wasn't necessary?

Now of course this is totally situational. You wouldn't dump soup and rolls on a platter together and splash them all over the table. You wouldn't put foods that need to be chilled onto a platter with hot foods. But if you're serving meat, potatoes and a vegetable it makes total sense to put it together nicely on a platter which is easy to cover and keep warm until everyone is seated. It also is much easier to put in the middle of the table so everyone can reach. No passing dishes around. Dinner is available in front of everyone at the same time.

Last Friday I served green beans with our steak, potatoes and breaded mushrooms. They got set aside and at the end of the meal I realized we hadn't eaten them. This would not be a problem if the steaks, potatoes, mushrooms and green beans had been beautifully arranged on one large tray.

I own a lot of beautiful platters that just sit in a drawer unless I am entertaining. Well I'm now entertaining the idea they they need to be out and used often. Imagine one trip to the table instead of multiple trips with a variety of dishes. Less dishes to wash too. I just love this idea. It is so simple but feels so life changing.

The vision of food beautifully arranged on a tray excited me too. It sounds so pretty and visually appealing to the family to see it all lovingly presented together. It kind of makes every day feel like Thanksgiving. Even if you buy a roasted chicken and just quickly whip up some side dishes think how gorgeous it would all look on a pretty platter.

I'm pulling my platters out people! It's time to start using them and using fewer dishes and making my life simpler. This is one reason I love to read. You never know what little tidbit you might find on the pages of a magazine that will change the way you live your life. Thanks Lucinda Scala Quinn!

P.S. That's Lucinda there on the left along with Martha and the Everyday Food TV team. Notice she's posing with meals presented on platters.

22 April 2014

Bargain Sandals Easter Weekend Extravaganza

Instead of gathering colorful Easter eggs last weekend I instead gathered a basket full of colorful sandals. I stopped into a couple of stores last weekend. I popped into the shoe departments for a fast peek, just in case there was something I couldn't pass up. Little did I realize it was new shoe shipment week and much to my surprise there were lots of shoes in my size. That generally doesn't happen, so I took my time and did some looking. I picked up four options, all on sale, that I hope will carry me through Summer 2014 and right into Christmas at least.

Each pair is quite different but have fun details and colors - and best of all each pair seems very comfortable.  All but the bottom left hand corner are from Target where I got a double discount. These are also on sale online at Target.com. I loved the red pair with the red stripe in the sole. The twisted sparklies were too cute to pass up and I loved the earthy mixed metal rivets and varied band widths on the dark brown pair. 

The bottom left corner I picked up at the military exchange on base on Friday. They are Unionbay Noreen sandals and are a pretty coral color which doesn't really translate in photos apparently. They are even cuter on the feet.

All four pairs will be great with jeans and pants as well as skirts and dresses. That means lots of outfit options. You might want to check out these Dr. Scholls sandal inserts I also found this weekend. Remember how I was making my sandal insoles by trimming down inserts? Well I guess I don't have to anymore. I'm going to test drive these. I'll let you know. My one dislike about them is how tiny they are. They don't reach to the middle of my heel, but I think the ball of the foot is the critical area needing padding generally, so we'll see how it goes.

If you are in need of sandals for this summer, now is the ideal time to pick them up while stock and selection are at their best. With weather warming up across the U.S. sandals are going to become a hot item.

Images 1, 2, & 4 via Target.com
Image 3 via Zulilly

21 April 2014

Now Is My Time #16: Bad Mood Recovery Techniques

I have found myself unusually cranky and flat out grumpy a few times in the past ten days. I think it would be hardly noticeable to the outside world other than I seemed a little quiet or less smile-y but I definitely felt it inside. Unhappy, sour and unpleasant was definitely how I was feeling on the inside.

Let me tell you how I got to that point. Some crummy things happened like our bathroom flooded badly...twice in one day. On another day I started looking at friends' Instagram photos and started feeling like my life was totally lame. I blew a new recipe for The Man's birthday dinner and the next day all the Easter chocolates I had purchased melted in the trunk of the car before I got home.

Nothing so serious but all these events put me in a stinky mood. I'm sure no one else ever feels like this (haha) but I thought I'd write about all the techniques I've used to get out of those cranky moods. A couple of these will be a repeat from last week's Bloom in Spring post, but since they are lifetime challenges and not something you fix in a day, haha, I'm sure they can bear repeating.

1. Try to figure out why I am feeling the way I do. Easy when I know it's the bathroom flooding, or me being dumb and letting the grass look greener on the other side of the fence. A little tougher when it's a big worry for your family or a conflict with someone you thought you could trust. I find the best way to quickly figure out what's eating at me is to write it down. Start writing on a blank sheet of paper about what you're feeling and chances are good that within a few minutes you'll have keyed in on the issues that are eating at you.

2. Meditate. Doing some deep breathing and a guided meditation helped me to relax body, mind and soul. It's good to refocus and it turns out that my grumpy moods are the perfect time to be participating in the Finding Your Flow 21-day Meditation exercise with Oprah and Deepak Chopra.

I'm loving it so far and the topics couldn't be more spot on. They are all about how our happiness, strength and courage come from within, not without. Great reminders when you feel like complaining about everything.

I also started a new meditation, inspired by my prayer jar, about where I want our life as a family to go, going forward. It's great to lie down and just walk myself through the successful accomplishment of our goals and the receiving of blessings our family stands in need of. A pretty picture to paint and focus on in my heart and soul. Encouraging and calming.

3. Get out in nature. It's tough to be grumpy when you are relaxing out in nature. One day after a particularly frustrating day we met up with friends at Will Roger's State Park for an Easter Egg Hunt and within minutes all my frustrations were long forgotten and we were laughing and having fun. Such a good distraction. This has happened at the beach several times too.

4. Exercise & eat well. Take your frustrations out on the treadmill or weights. I'm doing that this morning. I think we're only just beginning to discover, scientifically,what a huge impact the food we eat has on our bodies. Good stuff in will help you feel great, have more energy and have a brighter outlook. There are a lot of chemicals in processed foods and sugary foods that make us feel limp, dull and cloudy in the head. They should always be avoided, but in frustrating times it's even more important to eat well.

5. Seek inspiring study. I'm always a fan of something uplifting to raise me to higher heights. There are so many options, pick a favorite and look for something good. Last night I read this article on spiritual falsehoods that can discourage us.

6. Take stock in your good works. On Sunday I sat down and made a list of all the things I'd done in the past two days. While it didn't seem like much at first, once I got going I had a fairly substantial list of things I'd been doing with my time. Realizing that we'd taken care of our top family priorities as well as a mountain of other things I recognized that I am doing much more than it feels like every day.

7. Accomplish little things. It's amazing how good it can feel to get a few things done. It doesn't take many minutes of concentrated efforts before the mood lifts and you start to feel better about things. A few minutes cleaning up any area of the house makes me feel much better about life. Even just making the bed gets the day off to a much cheerier start. Sometimes I like to just take three minutes and put ten things away that are out of place. If everyone helps it's even better.

8. Do something you love. Taking a few minutes to make a favorite craft, read a good book, garden or just chat with a friend on the phone is a gift to yourself that can make life feel positive and rewarding.

9. Rest. I write about this all the time and I do think it's one of the great struggles of womankind. I see it everywhere. But I would caution to make it restorative rest. I have noticed that playing on my computer, even when I am doing something fun like Pinterest, does not restore me. It's an escape for a while, it can be fun, but I don't feel rested afterwards. Doing things that are truly restful for the body, mind and soul are critical for our happiness. I'm trying to do better at gauging both the quantity AND quality of my rest.

10. Lower expectations. Let's be honest. We do too much and we still want to do more. Our real peace and happiness lie in doing less, not more. I have fought the good fight over the past few years to strip away things that are not critical and I still have to do this constantly. I cannot do it all. I cannot contribute time and money to every good request for help from the world, I cannot do everything I would love to do for my family, I cannot do all the fun projects I want to do, I cannot have "the perfectly clean all the time" house I would love to have. It's just not possible.

When we lower our expectations we relieve our own stress, we are more pleasant to be around and we are better able to enjoy our beautiful lives as they are right this minute. There are times and seasons for things in life, but to fancy that we must have them all at one time is a recipe for disaster, breakdown, depression, frustration and feelings of failure.

Two other things which I've talked about here repeatedly are gratitude lists and counting blessings. I did sit down this week and make a list of all the miracles that have happened in our lives this year. That WAS encouraging. Looking at the good that comes into our lives every day definitely puts a brighter light on life!

A combination of all these things has me still smiling and while I continue to attempt to banish "the grumpies" over here, I hope these ten little ideas will help you get out of your next bad mood. It's nice when they are few and far between but I know they come to all of us at times. Hang in there, keep on smiling. This too shall pass!

17 April 2014

Blossoming In Springtime

Thought I'd do a spring pick-me-up inspiration list today. I know so many people are just pulling out of one of the gnarliest winters seen in a long time. Flowers and trees are blooming and everyone is scurrying outside. Although we don't have much of a spring season here other than overcast days and our coolest temps of the year, I still get a touch of spring fever and start craving the coming of summer.

I've been keeping a list of things that inspire me for summer and that are helping me feel springtime right now and thought I would share it with you. I hate to disappoint you and tell you that nothing I am sharing here is new rocket science, but I know I still need reminding all the time. Maybe you'll find a "Duh, I should be doing that" here too.

1.  Inspiration:  See what's new and fresh for this season. Fashion magazines, blogs and Pinterest should give you loads of fresh ideas to work with. Take notes, and look for ways you can freshen up lifestyle, home and wardrobe. Find the trends that work for your lifestyle, your look and your body type. Even the boldest trends can be incorporated in some small way if it's something you like. Can't wear neon? Find a neon striped tote bag or a strappy sandal with one small neon strap or layer in the sole. There's no reason to miss out on a look you like. Here's a link to my Spring/Summer fashions and Favorite Shoes pinterest board. I just added new things on both. Plus here's a post on great sandals for this season. Here are two favorite bloggers who give great ideas for seasonal fashions -- Liz from Say Yes and my friend Beverly Jacobs.

2. Self-tanner: Having what appears to be a little tan on your legs this early in the spring can really put a spring in your step. I've been using mine regularly the past few weeks as I'm wearing more skirts and it really does cheer me up. I feel summery every time I look down at my "tan" feet and ankles. Why wait for summer to get a golden glow. Here's my favorite tanner right now, but I'm interested in trying this one from a Pinterest recommendation. Hmm, sounds like a future Pin Test doesn't it?!

3. Moisturizers: Skin care is so important. I've been doing a lot of moisturizing lately, especially focusing on my hands, legs, feet, face and neck. Products with hyaluronic acids are a favorite right now and here's some info on hyaluronic acids benefits. I'll do a post soon on my favorite products. I have a few I'm quite in love with right now.

Here's a little quick tip: you can find lots of amazing skin care products at a great discount at Marshalls. Serious savings on some great stuff. (Now that I've shared one of my best secrets, please leave a little for me. wink.) Fresh looking skin makes you look and feel young and spry. That is a great feeling any time of year, but when you start stripping back on the layers of clothing, accessories, and other distractions you want the simplicity of your body to look really great and energized.

4. The Basics: Drink lots of water, eat well (lots of fruits and veggies!) and get plenty of sleep. Beautiful spring chickens need good nutrition and self-care. Those are things that don't cost you any extra money, don't require a doctor, medicine or an expensive product to get. Just refocus on the basics.

5. Exercise: Another basic, but this one deserves its own mention. I'm astounded at how simple this concept is when it comes to looking young, energetic and beautiful. Fit bodies are the most beautiful, not just for their muscles but also for the increased circulation that improves the look of skin and keeps it hydrated and with plenty of plumpness. One also gains improvement in posture, mobility and flexibility from regular workouts Here's a link to a lot to great routines and body-part specific workouts.

There are a million excuses for not working out and no one who uses them is getting any better for it. Harsh realities for us all, especially as we get older. I'm talking to myself here first of all. I've been working out pretty diligently, thankfully, and I'll tell you I feel a ton more energy and look and feel much better than when I don't work out. There's no valid, viable excuse for not exercising. And it's a great time to use it as an energizer for this spring season. Start with a walk and then go crazy trying everything. It's a lot of fun and one of the best self-confidence builders there is!

6. Color: It's a great time to add some color to the wardrobe. There are lots of cute striped tops, contrasting tote bags and multi-colored sandals out there right now. Find a couple of new pops you can add to your look.

7. Mani-pedis: Now that you've taken off the boots you've been wearing for the past six months it's a great time to get back into your summer foot care routine. You deserve to feel beautiful. Don't wear those pretty new spring sandals with grubby looking feet. Pretty feet are one of the best signs of summer for me. Try a deep pink nail polish or some other springy color. Every time you look down at your feet you'll get a little kiss of spring spirit. Prettily painted toes and a little self-tanner and you might feel like you just came back from a week in Mexico! (Okay I know that's pushing it a little but visualization exercises can't hurt.)

8. Deep Conditioner: It's a great time to put a shine on the hair. I've been taking time lately to deep condition my hair regularly and have even been using this make at home eye cream on my hair too. Coconut oil and Vitamin E can't be wrong for the hair, right? My hair is a lot softer and more manageable. There are so many great recipes (again turn to Pinterest). Here's a whole bunch right here.

8. Adventure Planning: Start working up some ideas for fun day trips, weekend getaways or summer vacations. Did you know planning a trip is therapeutic? The largest boost of happiness comes from the planning! Check out this article in the New York Times all about it. Getting to actually take the trip is a wonderful added bonus. I'm focusing this year on fun things right in our area that we've never done: amusement parks, beaches, campgrounds, museums, you name it. If we have never done it, we're going to check it out. No matter where you live there are some cool things still to check out -- and easy to find on the internet.

Just by doing a quick Google search here are some ideas from our area: Top 12 Things To Do in Los Angeles In 2014, 100 Free Things To Do In Los Angeles, Lonely Planet: Things To Do In Los Angeles

9. Reading: I have been following the writing career of my former co-worker and friend Brett Battles and right now I am reading his latest book The Discarded. I've read all his Jonathan Quinn series and a couple of other books he's written. They are a great read for vacations and I've spent many hours on beaches reading his books. Sometimes it's all I can do to force myself to save the read for an upcoming vacation. There are so many great authors out there, why not start your summer reading now. I've also been reading inspiring talks on self improvement and religion that are also guiding me a lot. Reading is a great way to relax and unwind. (Remember it's all about self-care this year! Now Is My Time 2014!

10. Play: Get out and enjoy the fine weather and play. Play games, play sports, play with kids at the park. Play is one of the most psychologically beneficial things we can do. Using our brains and bodies in different ways, interacting with other people, laughing and moving to a different beat are so good for us. It's a great way to be in the present moment and truly rejuvenate. It will probably tire you out too, which will help you get more sleep! Fly a kite, play tag, pull out a board game, play ball, ride bikes, roller skate, whatever puts a smile on your face. Here's an idea for a play bag for your car.

Here's to the best spring ever. Hope something here will put a spring in your step. Sending you warmest wishes for a great day!

14 April 2014

Now Is My Time #15: Recovery and Relaxation

Last week was seriously one of those anything that can go wrong will go wrong weeks. In fact it seems like the past two months have fallen into that category. Last week's catastrophes included waking up to a bathroom with several inches of standing water on the floor and a broken toilet that even with the water turned off was still leaking from several places. Sigh...

By the end of the week my stress-o-meter was worn out. So having a Saturday at the beach was about as heavenly as it could get. There have been times when I have gone to the beach, hoping to relax and could feel my shoulders as tight as could be and my soul tense. This was one of those times. I knew I just had to start walking barefoot and hoped that I would let go of things and be in the moment. At first I wasn't sure I'd be able to. I remember having that same worry at other times on the beach. I tried to have faith that like all the other times, I would be able to let go and enjoy.

By the time I had walked a quarter mile or so, all worries were forgotten and I was taken in by the waves, birds, sailboats, sand and shells. Watching the other beach goers enjoying themselves helped me relax. Searching for good treasures made me forget other thoughts. And soon several hours had passed and I was feeling sunkissed and full of good cheer. My Instagram feed is full proof that I was completely and joyfully in the moment on Saturday, spending the day with my favorite little person.

She claimed this groove of palms as her little secret hideaway and found an old charcoal to make signs. We spent the better part of the afternoon in the shade of the palms, making little signs and decorating the little hideout with flowers and twigs and rocks. Such a lovely day and such a great getaway from the worries of the adult world. Spending time in nature and spending time at play with kids are two of the very best ways to give oneself recovery and relaxation time. I was definitely in need of a little self-care after last week and this was the perfect day for it. Sometimes self-care requires planning and work and other times the best way to find it is to just let oneself go in the present moment and drink it in freely.

Have you had some great self-care moments of late? How have you let go and joyed in the moment?

11 April 2014

Steve Madden Spring Sandals

I was reading friend and stylist Beverly Jacobs' blog this week and followed a link over to the sandals section at Steve Madden. I saw so many sandals there that I like that I had to share my excitement. Since leaving the desk job world and joining the "spend my weekends at museums, parks, zoos and beaches" world I've become a pretty big fan of a comfortable flat sandal. I don't wear my four-inch high sandals much anymore except maybe to an appointment or to church.

From top left to right here are my favorite nine sandals from this season at Steve Madden:

1. Gildedd: These come in this multi-colored look or in a multi-metallic version. I should mention that all of these sandals come on more than one color option.

2. Dressel:  Classic, simple style looks good with everything.

3. Donddi:  Love the black and gunmetal gray together. Basic with a twist.  

4. Giliann:  The contrasting materials again take something simple and turn it on its ear a bit.

5. Flexi-P:  A kick of animal print sassiness. I love it -- in VERY small doses.

6. Gleamin:  Leather and sparklies are always a good mix.

7. Meetra:  The color combo here makes these workable with earth tones, bright colors or blacks and whites.

8. Rugidd:  I love the little added detail of two straps at the ankle on this pair. Simple and chic.

9. Marked:  The nice thick sole on these provides cushion for the feet on long days. Again love the simplicity.

I guess if you were to describe all of these they are old classics with a little fun updating. They hearken to the little girl in us with big girl, big city styling. They are all cute, colorful and something fun and eye-catching for the feet.Which are your favorites? Do you have a go to summer sandal every year or several?

all images via Steve Madden

10 April 2014

Summer Skirt Sampling

This photo just makes me giddy, can I tell ya that?! Giddy. This gorgeous color palette was quite a painful labor to create but in the end I am supremely happy with it. These are the fabrics for my new skirts. Last Saturday I knew I was going to have an entire day to spend on my own in a nearby city with no real commitments until evening. So I decided to fit in my fabric shopping trip that morning since it didn't work out so well last week when I took the entire clan with me, although I am crazy about the fabrics we found for The Bug.

Thank goodness I had a good breakfast and time for good soul-strengthening inspiration that morning before I started the fabric store marathon. It can't be a bad day when you start it with a breakfast sandwich on Texas Toast. Mmm. I headed into the fabric store about 10:40 a.m. and came out about 1:30 p.m.

Finding fabrics I liked didn't take too much time and I had good luck finding contrasting fabrics I wanted to use. I ran into a woman who make bridal dresses who asked me what I was doing with the fabrics. When I told her about my project, she had some good advice AND gave me a 40% off coupon. Score. I already had one but I could use both on two individual items.

So here's what I am hoping is going to happen with the skirts. They will be basic a-line, just below knee length so I can sit down like a lady in them.

Skirt One: The gray and white polka-dot will have a band of the fuchsia around the bottom. It doesn't look very fuchsia in the lighting, but it is. I will admit I must be having a weird thing for polka-dots this Spring because you'll notice that three of the four patterns are in fact polka-dots. .And the only reason I have one fabric that is not is because I forced myself to find something besides a polk-dot pattern.

Skirt Two: Orange polka-dot will have a dark gray band across the bottom.

Skirt Three: The bold floral (still with the polk-dots) is the one I am going to do something a little different with. This one took some thinking. I tried a bunch of fabrics as a band across the bottom but none really worked. After a short brainstorm with the bridal dressmaker lady, I decided to just do a very thin one-inch band of white along the hem.

Skirt Four: Well I had to find another print and I luckily I happened upon this one pretty quickly. The partner fabric isn't seen here but I have a beautiful blue similar to the blue in the banded shells to use as the band across the bottom. 

When I went into the store it was pretty quiet and there were no lines. I chose my fabric then looked in vain for a blouse pattern -- well I found it in a book but it wasn't available in the store. After that I briefly looked at scrapbook papers and investigating options for some other projects I have in mind. Soon the store was getting very busy and the cutting table line had crowds standing all around the area. By the time I did get a number, I had quite a long wait.

When I walked out of the store I had gotten a discount on everything I bought and I was exhausted. So even though I spent fifty dollars on fabric, to get four skirts out of that is a pretty big steal of a deal. Now I get to start cutting and sewing. It will be a while before it's warm enough to run around in a short skirt, but I will be so happy when I have so many lovely choices.

09 April 2014

Instagram Life Lessons

see all these images & more here

So I finally joined Instagram a few weeks ago and I've learned a few things. At first I was a little clueless about what I wanted to put there other than DIY projects I might be working on for the blog. So I felt it out for a while, read some articles on how to be a good Instagram-mer and watched what others did.

During one of our brainstorm/barnstorm sessions I asked EverKelly's advice on Instagram. Always ready with just the right words somehow, she told me I would find a niche that felt comfortable to me and suggested I set aside a few minutes each day to think about things I would like to photograph and post.

In the weeks that have followed I've learned some good life lessons from ol' Instagram. First, I've learned to slow down and start seeing the world around me. It's amazing the beauty of nature that I've enjoyed as I've challenged myself to lift my head up from my walking, riding and driving to see what is going on with plants and animals on the ground and the skies above me. There are so many beautiful flowers and trees putting on a beautiful show of color. In just a couple of weeks Jacaranda season will come to L.A. and our streets will be full of beautiful trees covered in purple blossoms.

I have noticed more beautiful things in the streets I walk daily than I've seen in years. I look at the flowers in front of our building every day now and the flowers in our neighbor's yards too. When I walked to the grade school there is a lot to see. I've been missing it by hurrying and scurrying. I always have my phone with me so now I'm trying to remember to look for things I can take photos of and to look up and see more than the sidewalks.

Wherever I go now, I am more thoughtful to see what there is to see, rather than multi-tasking in my head, just going through the motions of getting to where I need to go or getting home. I feel like I appreciate much more where I live and the little things of beauty all over in our world. What a gift and a blessing.

Second, I've learned to enjoy more the things I have in my home. Harkening back to Ever Kelly's words, I felt a draw to photograph treasures in my home. They may not mean much to someone else, but their beauty and history mean something to me and so reflect me and who I am. The things I've brought into my home I have put heart and thought into but it's easy to plop them somewhere and forget about them completely. I realized that I have treasures all over in my home that I don't even see. My eyes go right past them.

Now I like to take time to look around my home and see the treasures that I love and to photograph them in a way that reminds me why I chose them in the first place and why I find them meaningful and beautiful. I can tell you that looking past the laundry basket, bed to be made and kitchen floor that needs to be mopped I like my home lot more.

Beyond the mess of a little family, it reflects me, it reflects us and I love that. Sometimes it's easy to forget the beauty of the family too when one can only see the messes. A double-fold lesson there. Photographing bits of my home reminds me to love this place of beauty, love, safety and refuge - and to love and appreciate even more the people here.

Third, I've been reminded how very blessed I am and that the life I dream of is not as far as it sometimes seems from the reality that I live. This lesson reminds me of another life lesson I learned that I shared at re:Find Joy a few years ago about how my dream life was already in my life, I just wasn't seeing it.

There are so many little daily pleasures available to us all the time that we can forget to take advantage of: a walk, a sit in the sunshine, a few moments to laugh, time to read a book, cook a nice meal, phone a friend or family member or write a note...the options really are endless and they are just waiting for us.

Happiness, joy, peace and laughter are all just waiting for us, sitting right next to us waiting, waiting, waiting. Whether we lean over and take a moment to pick these beautiful flowers of life is our decision and only ours. What are we waiting for? Let's pick more, shall we?

Spring is a season full of simple pleasures. What simple pleasures are you enjoying this year? I'd love to hear from you and learn from what you know.

08 April 2014

Finally A New Handbag

Well it had to happen sometime and of course it happened the week after I bought some canvas to make myself a bag. I have seriously been looking for a handbag I could really love for at least a couple of years now. I have hunted through large department stores, specialty boutiques, thrift stores and discount retailers and just have not found anything that met all my needs that got me excited.

Last weekend I stopped into Marshalls and as usual I perused the handbag section. Hidden at the back of one of the racks was this gray and camel canvas tote that just jumped out at me. I am loving gray and brown right now and have been mixing it a lot with my clothing choices. I was looking for a tote-ish bag that wasn't too big. This met that critieria well. I wanted something I could carry in my hand and wear over a shoulder. I wanted something neutral that wasn't totally boring. I love the textures and contrasts on this bag that keep it simple but stylish. The b.o.c. Lemmor Foldover bag met all my hopes and so I grabbed it.

it also comes in tan - via Follow Sales

I didn't realize it was a foldover bag until I looked it up online after I got home. It's full of stuffing so it didn't look like it would foldover. Seeing a photo on line, that makes sense now. The Lemmor Foldover is canvas so I know it's not going to last for all too long, but purses, especially if they're an every day purse, don't often last too long. But it could be a great basic for a while. We'll give it a go. I'm ready to carry something a little more stylish that the uber-utilitarian bag I've been using.

I am so excited to move my goods over into this bag and start enjoying it every day. Will be such a breath of fresh air. The other thing I've been on the hunt for over some years now is new bedding. I seriously have spent dozens of hours looking over the past several years and I just haven't found it yet. I am about to break down and make my own again. Maybe if I buy the fabric for it, I'll suddenly find that too. Haha.

Speaking of fabric, I will have some very pretty fabric to show you later this week. Remember my somewhat ill-fated fabric shopping trip last week? Well last Saturday I had an entire day to use up on my own in a nearby city, so I planned to use part of that time to shop. I'll tell you all about it soon. Have a great day and don't forget this is your time to life your best life.

top image via 6 p.m.

07 April 2014

Now Is My Time #14: Feeding My Creative Soul

My creativity buzz has been a powerful one lately. I count that as a great thing because the last few months I feel like my life was wearing me out a little too much for me to have inspiring creative thoughts or energy to follow through with them. So last week when my mind started buzzing with ideas, I felt pretty excited. Here are just a few projects that have been percolating in the mind.

1) DIY dining table and benches. Here are a few ideas. I may have stayed up very late in the night scheming and researching on this one. I'm planning my first trip to a Habitat resale store to look at reclaimed wood options. I also have a large slab of engineered wood I kind of like at Home Depot that would work. I'm thinking natural wood color for this project.

2) Upholstered headboard. I have a linen/cotton drop cloth I picked up last week that would be gorgeous as a headboard with a little on-sale batting from JoAnn's. Not sure why it took me to long to think about two new options for this old IKEA headboard I have. One is to cover the front with reclaimed wood slabs and the other is to just upholster it. So easy.

3) Tote Bags. I actually bought that drop cloth to make a tote bag for myself. Here's a link to my Tote Bags Pinterest page where you can see some favorite canvas bags that I am liking for Spring. Have a few ideas, just need some fabric paint and a couple of notions to make that happen.

4) Spring/Summer Skirts. I told you about our crazy fabric store adventure last week. I am excited to mix and match some fantastic fabrics to make our summer wardrobes cheery and sassy this year. I'm already ready for tee shirts, skirts and flip flops even though that weather is a ways off for us yet. Here's a link to some great tutorials on Pinterest.

5) Thrift Shopping. I have been a several thrift shopping adventures the past couple of weeks. From good browses through our neighborhood shops, pop ins when I'm in other cities attending to business, and even a full day escape with a lovely friend to some of the big warehouse thrift stores here in L.A. It's good to get out there and see what is available and put your mind to work on how you could incorporate items that catch your eye into your home and life.

I am still thinking about a few great pieces of furniture I saw at a Salvation Army in the South Bay and wishing I had a real work room where I could put one of the large work tables we say in downtown L.A. What a perfect surface those would be for DIY sewing, craft and art projects. They were big. Thrift shopping feeds my creative soul in a fantastic way by overloading my vision with items that challenge me to find uses for them.

6) Gardening. Last week I finally had the time and energy to attack my ten-year-old gardenia plant. It was dying from the center out and just didn't look like it was coming back. So I snipped off anything that looked like it could survive, got instructions on how to root cuttings and I'm hoping for the best. Our lemon tree is finally producing fruit. The dozen or so lemons are starting to turn yellow. A long wait (several years), but that is exciting. We have tomatoes turning red on the vine right now too. We also just got a Jade cutting from friends on Saturday which we are looking forward to replanting. Growing things is challenging and fun when things work out.

I love it when I am on fire creatively. It feels like the most authentic, happy me. Of course I have to be careful because it could spin out of control if I let it. I could start to ignore all other facets of life, go crazy starting ten projects at once and spend a small fortune on DIY supplies. Thankfully I don't let those things happen, but I could if I really let myself. It would be a little bit fun, right? Instead I lose sleep dreaming about it all and awake time during the day doing one or two now and again. But if I had a workshop, more tools, more time and all that good stuff, I think I might be in some trouble.

In the coming weeks we'll see what creative "trouble" I will get into. If The Man happens go go away again on a work project for a few weeks, anticipate he'll come home to a new handmade dining table and benches on the sides. I'm not telling him that. It will just be a little happy surprise.

04 April 2014

Cold Weather & Speaking Out Your Dreams

I can feel that we are fully into our usual crazy busy Spring season. Three birthdays in eleven weeks, school holidays, a busy extra-curricular activities schedule, Easter...oh, so many things going on. The weeks just seem to fly by. I get organized over the weekend and by Thursday I often miss posting something here.

It has been "cold" for us this week and by that I mean we wore long sleeves, layered tops, shoes, socks, jackets and even the occasional scarf. We even got to wear the new Patagonia super light down jackets we got on clearance last fall - finally. A yucky cold wind has been howling and messing up hair and blowing things around all week too. We still have all the windows open much of the day and sometimes at night, but my feet get very cold and I have to really bundle up.

We've been able to enjoy the fireplace and I've been heating up a microwave heating pad to take to bed with me. I've always said Spring is the worst weather we have all year. Spring Break visitors please dress appropriately, don't bring tank tops and shorts to LA in April or May. Bring a warm jacket.

During hot weather I will go long stretches not using the stove because it makes the house so hot. Heating up the house and enjoying a nice warm, cozy dinner has been perfect for this week. We also wolfed down a pot of homemade chicken soup with the most fantastic new "special" bread I found at the grocery store this week-- Rustic bread with sesame seeds. It was amazing and there were only three small slices left when dinner ended. It was a small loaf, but no one held back slathering the butter on the gorgeous slices and savoring every delicious bite.

I am refocusing on Now Is My Time again. I have been focusing on self-care efforts but I haven't been wearing my mantra to the full-extent yet. I'll post more about that on Monday. Now Is My Time is also about making dreams come true. I've set a tight goal to finish the novel I've been working on. Once I am done with that, I have a little dream of a gallery show of my torn paper art to start working on.

You can see some simple examples of my torn paper art at Margot Madison Creative and here. I was thinking about what kind of theme I would work from and it totally came to me this week and I started taking notes. When the time is right, I'll make it happen. The theme will be something along the lines of Finding Joy In Every Day. Shocking, right? Doesn't sound like me at all, waha. Anyway, another part of Now Is My Time is being braver about putting the dreams out there, so I'm doing that, speaking them publicly.

We're looking forward to a peaceful, quiet weekend. Sunday we're having friends over and I am thinking about what kind of simple morning spread I can put out for breakfast. I'm thinking Scandinavian style with beautiful breads, meats, cheeses, jams and fruit. Later in the day we will enjoy a eggs, bacon and pancake extravaganza. I should tell you more about our pancake parties sometime. Should be a lovely "stay at home" day.

I just dropped another wish into my prayer wish jar this morning. It was a beautiful one. Now to go work on making that happen. Sending you love and best wishes. Hope you find the joy awaiting you in your day today.

P.S. If you are looking for some great peaceful music to calm the soul, I love my "meditation music" station on Pandora. It's free, lovely when you are trying to center yourself and create a great environment in your space.

image by kalanicut - a pretty sight on the walk home from school pick up last week.

02 April 2014

Sew Ready For Spring & Summer

As usual our Spring in SoCal is proving to be our crummy weather season. We had full blown summer all winter long but at soon as Spring hit things went a little wonky. But we still get Spring fever here, ready to school to get out, for the summer heat (that won't come until July or August and the extend through October), beach days and wearing bright, summer colors.

Monday night I made the very interesting decision to take the entire family to the fabric store. Anyone who sews has already done a face palm at this hair-brained idea. LOL. I needed to take The Bug with me so she could choose her fabrics for her new clothes and The Man wanted to get some craft supplies, so "Why not! The more the merrier!" That is until you're trying to make decisions about fabrics, look at patterns and locate all the needed notions. "Oooh, dawgie."

Three opinions in the fabric department were too many with hundreds of choices and the need to match more than one fabric that will go into one of the skirt patterns. I decided to give Daddy one choice as long as The Bug approved, then The Bug and I picked two others that she really liked. By this time things were beginning to swing out of control. They wandered off and a few minutes later I heard The Bug calling "Daaaad, Daaad," in that "I'm lost" voice that every mother can hear from a mile away. I quickly located her, still no sign of The Man but instead of staying with me she wanted to go find Dad.

Sigh. So finding him a few short seconds later I left again, only to begin hearing a loud ball bouncing and their voices from across the now mostly empty, very quiet fabric store. Head down, I ducked into the pattern section hoping to find a blouse pattern for myself. After quickly skimming three books, I found an easy sew pattern in the round racks that would work and then realized the didn't have my size. Gave up on that.

Went to the notions department where the clan joined me again to show me dozens of cool ribbons that had nothing to do with our current projects, to which I patiently replied again and again, "Yes, that is very nice," or "Oooh, I like that too." I finally found two fantastic silver trims that would work with our blue and silver metallic fabric, only to find at the cutting table minutes later that one of them was in sad shape and very clearly would not withstand a rough and tumble second grader.

Hiding so the other two, who were now very ready to go home, wouldn't see me I dashed back to the trim section only to be disappointed with a much lesser exciting choice but my only good option. By the time I got to the elastics aisle chaos had taken over, the still bouncing ball hitting the cart and rolling back and forth between the aisle sides. The Man was getting antsy to leave. I'll say he lasted about 30 minutes longer than I actually anticipated. Making a decision on which one-inch elastic to buy was now creating a major stupor of thought for me with the two of them spinning round me and talking.

My plan had originally included finding fabrics to make me a knit pencil skirt and a lovely, fun print to make an easy-breezy cotton summer skirt. I ended up scraping all attempts to make any decisions for myself amid the commotion as my anxiety increased and my decision making became more blurred. For some reason I bought myself a yard of dark chambray. I guess I'm making myself a simple skirt to start with....

But oh, didn't the new fabrics light up everyone's eyes. The best part about these three skirts we're making for The Bug is that I hope she's going to be sewing them. Yes, exciting. Last Christmas our dear friend asked if she and The Bug could do a secret project together. They got together for two nights, the first night they went fabric shopping and the second night they made pillowcases for our family for Christmas. With excellent help, The Bug did all the machine sewing. So she is ready for more sewing machine adventures and I think these will be perfect for her to start on with her excellent guide.

That leaves me more time to sew for myself. As hard as it's been to find clothes I get excited about in stores lately I am very interested in doing a little sewing. I can't find a skirt in any kid's store that goes anywhere near The Bug's knees being as tall as she is so making skirts is ideal and so easy for her too. Plus I love the all-out creativity you can have making your own clothes. You know you won't show up some place with all your friends in the same top or skirt and you can really put your personal style on things.

Hopefully I'll get my own sewing shopping adventure done sometime soon. I think I will need to go during the day while everyone is gone so that I have time to quietly sift through my options and make the best choices possible. I'm looking forward to it. It's a good time to be a seamstress in the Spring when the color palette in stores is overflowing with pretty, bright colors. Are you dreaming up some sewing projects this Spring? If you don't sew, is there something you wish you could make for yourself that you can never find just as you want it in stores?

image by kalanicut

01 April 2014

DIY Key Rack: How To Reduce Console Table Clutter

I've been wrestling with a basket full of keys at our front entryway for a while now and feeling really frustrated. When I was a single gal the front entryway table was serene and a way of welcoming people, giving them the first taste of my home.

There was always a lovely basket there, a pretty plant, maybe a small keepsake and in the basket would be my main set of keys, a spare car key and a set of keys for my bike (locks, bike rack, etc.). Now it looks like an overgrown garden that as been ignored for 50 years. It has become The Man's gathering spot for baseball hats, phone, phone case, sunglasses (mulitiple pairs), post-it notes, business cards, and lots and lots of key chains to every facet of our lives. The things we give up when we welcome other people into our lives. Haha.

So finding my keys has become an increasingly frustrating scenario, not to mention my plant, the beautiful tray at the bottom of the mess, etc. So I decided finally to make a key rack. It was a very simple and hopefully successful solution to our key overwhelmedness.

Here's the DIY quickie lowdown:

1) I used a piece of wood I already had on hand. It is  2 1/2 inches x 3/4 inch x 2 feet long. I sanded it down first then wiped it clean with a slightly damp cloth. I picked up five two-packs of white hooks at the hardware store last week. Each pack was about $1.20. One thing to double check is making sure that the screw end of your hooks is shorter than your board. When I got home I was a little worried about this, but the screws did not go through the back of my board so I got lucky on that.

2) Then I did my measurements. I decided I wanted nine hooks and so figured out how to center them on the board horizontally and vertically. They are about 2.5" apart, which seems to work well to be able to get a hand comfortably in and out to reach keys without getting scratched or the keys getting tangled together. You could use any size or shape of board. I think a square with hooks spaced 3x3 or more would be really cute.

3) After I marked with a pencil the spot where I wanted each hook to be placed, I used one of the hooks to make a small hole over the spot. This way when I stained I would not have visible pencil marks and it would make it really easy for me to find the spots I had marked instead of trying to find pencil marks I had made under the stain.

4) Then I erased all my pencil chicken scratches on the board. I had made a few trying to figure out my placement. Once I'd erased them, I lightly sanded the entire board again and wiped it clean.

5) I used "Weathered Wood" stain to quickly put one coat on the board. I only needed a small amount and then I really stroked it across the board many times to get as thin a coat as possible. I didn't leave it on too long, but wiped it off with a dry, clean rag within just a few minutes of staining it. This gave me the look I wanted where you could still see the grain and the wood had taken on a nice weathered patina.

6) I let the stain dry, which didn't take very long because it was such a light coat. I didn't put a protective spray on it because it's a pretty temporary project. As I'm typing this I am imagining eating my words and this becoming some sort of life-long treasure or generational family keepsake "made by your grandmother..." What a laugh that would be. But anyway, I am all for it getting more worn and old looking.

7) Once it was dry I screwed in all the hooks. It can be a little tricky to get all the hooks to align well going the same direction without over and under tightening them. When you find the right method, stick with it. On these I found that if I started the hook facing directly towards the bottom of the rack it would end up pretty close to straight facing up at the end with a little jiggering.

8) Then it was time to hang this baby up. I decided to just screw it into the wall, even though I was a little bummed that this meant making screw holes into my rack surface. Didn't want two big holes in it. But I couldn't think of a way that would give me the secure, tight fit I wanted to the wall, hold the weight of all those keys and not be sliding around if it got bumped.

One last note: Something you might want to consider with a project like this is home security. If keys to every facet of your life are easily accessible to a would-be intruder that could be a problem. This might be a good project to put somewhere not easily visible, maybe on the inside of a cupboard door or something. But most often, people already do keep their keys right by the door they most often go into, so it might not be that big of a deal to a lot of people.

I hoping this will help solve some of our foyer console table mess. I thought today I could even hang a couple of baseball hats on it to get those out of the way and an umbrella there wouldn't be a bad thing either. Three cheers for home organization. Sending you warmest wishes for a great day!
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