28 August 2014

LILLE VÄN Painted Animal Silhouettes

So if you read yesterday's post you know I'm having a bit of a Scandinavia moment and dreamy flashbacks from living there. Yesterday is was all about Dala Horses and while I was searching for them I found this.

I went a little gaga for this image. I absolutely love that whale at the top. So beautiful. Over my bed I have an antique black wood whale that I have had for a long time now. You can see it here. I love this new updated whale style by Fiveoeight's line LILLE VÄN.

The line is sold in the Etsy Shop Fiveoeight but the images are all retrieved from their official Pinterest Page. Posted on the Etsy shop is a note that the owners have just had a baby and are in the middle of a move -- from their blog and twitter there haven't been any updates for some months. So the shop is empty for now but I hope they will be back soon. So, until then, let's enjoy these Pinterest images.

Here is a look at some other LILLE VÄN art. A Dala Horse. Love the texture, patterns and color.

A bunny close-up. Again so charming. What a cute addition this would be for a kids room.

You can see many more examples of Fiveoeight's beautiful LILLE VÄN creatures on their Pinterest page and on their blog here. You don't want to miss the rams, they are really fun. I hope Fiveoeight will soon be back in their Etsy shop. They've got a good things going on.

27 August 2014

Scandinavia: Dala Horses

Seeing this image on Pinterest a while ago got me all inspired again about Dala Horses. Have I mentioned lately that I lived in Denmark for a while, barely still speak the language and have spent times in Norway, Sweden and Finland too? That information may be helpful to explain a bit of my passion for this post.

Dala Horses are ubiquitous in Scandinavia and pretty much every tourist shop has shelves of them in many sizes, right there next to the shelves of gnomes, lace curtains, pewter serving trays and wood handled cheese knives. (If you are at all familiar with Scandinavian tourist shops I hope you're laughing or at least smiling a little right now. )

Dala Horses have a beautiful history and you can learn all about it here. Traditionally they are painted red or blue with ornate tole painted details. I have owned a few over time, but right now don't have any. But this image inspired me to want a small stable of them. I love the simple black and I love how symbolically strong they look all together - standing strong against any foe that might come their way.

Here is a fun, more modern take - the bright apple green version. Love these but I think I want to go without the tole painting, as beautiful, symbolic and traditional as it is.

So now I'm on a bit of a hunt. Of course on Pinterest there are never-ending pages of images and a few possible sources. I wish IKEA would bring the giant ones back to their stores again. I need to keep an eye out.

I would never paint over an authentic Dala Horse.  However, if I found the all white ones in IKEA again, I'd be tempted to strip them and paint them all black...or maybe some metallic slate color.

Rustoleum's  spray paint Hammered in black would be the perfect color. It's got that perfect "a Viking just forged this metal over a fire in the woods of Norway" look to it.

Dala Horses are a great decoration for Christmas but you can find them in many Scandinavian homes year round. They are just one of the many, many things to love about Scandinavia. I'm going to stick with a Scandinavia theme again tomorrow. I have some beautiful wood art to share with you. I was a little speechless when I saw it because I liked it so much.

Image 1 via thatnordicfeeling

If you are the least bit into Scandinavian Design right now, this tumblr might make you pass out with excitement. I'm just warning you now. Tons of gorgeous home furnishings, architecture, clothing, nature, etc. Simply stunning.

Image 2 via Geocaching

26 August 2014

Glitter Ribbon Headbands & A Bracelet In The Works

Yesterday I couldn't go back to sleep once The Man left at 5:15-ish and I had a bee in my bonnet to rearrange my mantle and hearth. Before school drop off happened I had removed the decor, cleaned the area and oiled the mirror wood frame.

I am still experimenting with what will go there. I'm waiting to figure out what little things I can add to balance it out without it looking too crowded. 

A couple of hours later I put together two headbands trying a somewhat new technique and new combination of materials. I am still experimenting. Right now I am test driving one on my head. Have not fallen in love with it yet and it is not staying put as much as I had hoped.

This is glitter ribbon and although it's hard to see it's a dark gray with a purple tint to it. I like that it's fairly simple but has a little twist to it with the sparkliness.

In the late afternoon I pulled out my beads and jewelry making supplies with the goal to make something. I made three-quarters of a bracelet and then couldn't see where it was going to go next. So I stopped and put it away for a while. Still needs a few additions and the other half of the toggle clasp.

One of goals was to make something. I needed to make something creative. It was great to get a few minutes to whip up two things.

I will do a tutorial on the headbands as soon as the kinks are worked out. The bracelet will be a giveaway here on the blog soon. I haven't done a giveaway in a long time. It's time to spice things up around here.

Another task I took care of mid-evening yesterday was to clean out the pens and pencil drawer in my desk. It had become a gathering place of too much stuff and I was having a hard time finding things. I had The Bug go through all the pens and pencils and sort out all the pens that didn't work. That was a big help and of course she had fun making hearts on a piece of scratch paper with each and every pen that worked. I would've just tried to scribble on the scratch paper, she made a colorful rainbow of hearts. Well done her.

While she did that I went through all the bits and pieces of things and threw some things away. Some things found a new home, some things went into a small donations bag for the reDiscover Center

I also got some work done on my vision board last night. I came to realize I had way too many photos and I couldn't even get one group of my photos on the board. But taking Bob Proctor's advice I tried not to cram too much onto the board.

It's all laid out now, I just need to glue all the pieces down. But I thought I would let it sit to see if it still felt right in the morning. I've been wanting to get that done for a while now and I think the fall is a great time to gather one's direction for the coming year before the holiday season kicks into gear and all focus is temporarily distracted.

Speaking of focus, my meditation practice has also kicked up a notch. I meditate at least for a few minutes every day and some days it's up to an hour or a little more. I have a nice handful of meditations I rotate through including one I recorded myself just for me.

We're also two weeks into the Deepak and Oprah: 21-Day Meditation Experience. The theme is Expanding Happiness and it's been very good and inspiring.

Hope your week is going well. We are still working on getting into the school groove. Mornings are still a little rough. Homework is now starting to happen pretty easily. It's been nice to shut things down around here in the evenings much earlier than in the summer.

I am enjoying the long, darker evenings. Usually I am fighting the earlier sunsets tooth and nail right down to Winter Solstice, but for some reason my feelings on that are changing. How do you feeling about the increasing darkness on fall evenings? Do you strongly dislike it or do you find comfort in it?

25 August 2014

Now Is My Time #32: I Can Rise Above

I had an experience with an associate recently that left me with a terrible feeling inside. (And before I go any farther, I don't want anyone who reads this blog to think it was them, because it wasn't. I'm smiling but I can immediately think of some of you who might thing, "Agh, did I do something to offend? --And no you didn't.)

I know I'm not the only person these situations happens to. I try to make peace with uncomfortable experiences and then just move on. But this one kept replaying in my mind. I felt humiliated when what I needed was just the smallest word of encouragement.

After mulling this over for a couple of hours, the above thoughts came to my mind and I wrote them down and decided to share them. Because even though they are helpful to me I think they apply to all of us.

We all feel vulnerable. We all have moments where we walk away feeling like we weren't seen, understood or acknowledged. We all hear things that hurt our feelings sometimes. We are after all only human and we do have feelings, fears and weaknesses.

Who we are and what we can do is bigger than these small arrows of life. And so...once I got done with my little, ever-so-simple, totally not professional graphic design project, I posted it on my Inspiration: Faith Pinterest board. Cleansing breath.

On to bigger and better things...on to self-care and more self-love and less feeling bad about moments that make us feel less than we truly are. On to finding something kind I can do for another to forget my troubles and bless another.

22 August 2014

A Simple Birthday Gift Garland

A dear friend of mine is having a birthday this weekend and I thought it would be a great time to pop a little surprise in the mail for her. I wanted to make something simple and making colorful little garlands for friends has become a fun hobby for me. It gives me a chance to play around with all the "candy" in my beauty-filled paper supply drawer. 

I thought something fall oriented would be a good option, so I perused printable graphics for fall themes like leaves and acorns. I ended up copying an acorn pattern off my computer, literally -- I put a piece of scratch paper up to my screen and traced it with a pencil. That saved me a sheet of good paper & printer ink, plus it made it really easy for me to size my pattern by just shrinking down my screen appearance by ten percent. Super easy.

I traced the top of the acorn in one spot and the bottom in another so I had a two-piece pattern to work with. I extended the top of the bottom half of the pattern so that I could glue the cap over the top of it more easily.

I wanted this garland to have a little sparkle to it, so I picked up some flat gold ribbon and decided to use olive green glitter paper as a background. The ribbon was the only thing I didn't already have on hand so a quick trip to the fabric store was needed.

When I make a garland I try to always create an odd number of pennants. That way there is a center pennant for the eye to focus on and it doesn't look too symmetrical. My usual plan is to use nine to eleven pennants on a garland. This works out to be just perfect for hanging across a mantle. This time I went with nine.

The base brown paper is rectangles cut with a paper cutter to four inches by three inches. Then I just use scissors to notch the bottoms. I'm not exact on that part, but I like a little imperfection to keep things real. I used a circle punch to cut the perfect little circles from the green glitter paper.

Next I traced the acorn bottom nine times across the backside edge of a sheet of paper (so my pencil marks wouldn't be visible on the front side) and cut them all out with scissors. After that I did the same with the acorn caps.

Gluing came next and I experimented with school glue and even though I liked the adhesion I got with it, better than a glue stick, it was quite messy and hard to keep contained. So I went back to the glue stick and just tried to use a whole lot to keep things stuck together. Sometimes glue stick doesn't hold as well, but I do like that I have a little bit of time to re-position things before it dries hard.

Then I folded over the tops of each pennant and glued them to the ribbon. Keeping the ribbon flat so there are no twists in it is the hardest part of this procedure.

While the garland dried I whipped up a card using some coordinating paper and bringing in a similar circle and metallic theme. I also used the same brown paper that I used for the bases of the acorn to further tie things together. I couldn't find my gold metallic pen (rats!) so I went with silver. But it's trendy now to mix metallics, right?

I popped this all in the mail a few days ago and I hope it gets there on time. I hope it is a fun treat my friend will find in her mailbox just in time for her special day.

I have realized that I am doing a lot more creative projects lately. It's not that I have more free time but that I've been making more time. The best part is that I recognize that not only is it great for my soul but also that it's not taking anything away from the rest of my life to take that time out. This all plays into my self care goals and I really love that. Taking care of me really does make the rest of my life richer, happier, more peaceful - and I am more effective, creative and healthy.

Hope you are having a great day. Thanks so much for coming by.

21 August 2014

Our Back To School Feast Extravaganza

Can it really be back to school time already? I don't understand at all why our behemoth district chooses go to back to school in early August, but whatever....I firmly believe in going back to school around Labor Day! Amen.

This is our second year of doing a Back To School Feast which we held the Sunday night before last. You can see our first year feast here. I am so glad I went back and read through that post to remind me what I did, how it worked and what I said I would do differently.

Before I jump into anything I have to again thank Stephanie Nielson of NieNieDialogues for the inspiration for Back To School Feasts. You can see links to her yearly feasts here. She does an amazing evening for her kids the night before they go to school, something I had never even really thought about. So I am so grateful for her inspiration and shared wisdom on the subject.

When back to school happens the second week of August, while summer is just getting to full bloom it can be a bit of a shocker to the system! I want two more weeks at least, seriously! So it's a tight adjustment to wrap parents' heads around putting on a back to school feast so early in the month.

Here's how The Man and I break down the duties. I take care of any decorations and food, including this lovely crown for her to wear and a couple of posters. I also made dinner, which this year was her favorite meal: spaghetti, garlic bread, and salad. I made brownie sundaes for dessert - more on that here.

The Man takes charge of the evening's program and takes care of the coming up with and presenting the family theme for the school year.  He also offers a blessing for the kiddo for the upcoming year at the end of the evening.

Last year our family theme was Courage and Attitude. It was a great one. This year The Man and I discussed his ideas around self-reliance and hard work. These seem to be themes that are very present in our house these days.

It's a big transitional year from seven to eight years old we are finding -- at least in our family. This age seems to bring a little bit of an attitude and less willingness to help than we have seen in the earlier years. Yet at the same time it also brings a load more ability and need for personal responsibility.

So it was decided that teaching self-reliance and the importance of hard work would be very appropriate for this year. Here's the poster we used to present the theme for the year.

Each year we post this near her bed so that it's there as a reminder and opportunity for frequent teaching lessons as well. It's a good reminder to her but also to us as parents to remember our goal to teach those values and attributes.

Being self-reliant for us means kiddo is getting up half an hour earlier this year and doing a few, small chores before the school day. These include making her own lunch (with help from parents), making her bed, cleaning up the bedroom, unloading the dishwasher and personal scripture reading each morning.

The first morning of school she awoke, quite delighted at first, to see a beautiful welcome to the first day of school poster on the table next to her bed. She was a little less thrilled when she realized it was a glorified chore list, haha. I don't blame her!

But now it's there as a daily reminder of what she needs to do before school each morning and she can follow that along with very little parental involvement - which is great for everyone. She has been pretty fantastic as getting through the list each morning. There have been a couple of less than cheerful mornings, but we are finding that the appropriate amount of sleep is key to pleasant mornings.

Hard-work fits right in with these assignments. We've talked a lot the past couple of years about how everyone in the family has to contribute to the care and well-being of the family. The emphasis on hard work also extends to school work and after school lessons. Being diligent and having integrity in the work we do is important and so these values are on our list this year.

Teaching The Bug to work is also valuable because it is taking some small bits of work off of my and The Man's plates. It's great to have a third set of hands to help out in a more significant way around the house. It's amazing what having an empty dishwasher each morning has done to help keep the kitchen cleaner each day! Huge difference when everyone can just drop their dishes in during the day and then we can run it in the evenings.

This works best with all three of us at home. When it's just two of us, the dishwasher isn't quite full in one day, then it gets run at odd hours and times and that throws things into a bit of chaos. But being able to run it each night has been life-changing as far as work and mess go!

We are already well into our second week of school. Have the kids in your area started yet? Just think, summer break is just about 35 weeks away. Haha. I'd love to know what you do or did growing up to celebrate back to school at your house. I love hearing new ideas!

20 August 2014

I AM Art Project: Acknowledging Self

Last week I was part of a very interesting conversation about how often we tend to magnify small negative voices and diminish big positive voices in our lives. The assignment next was to make a list of positive words that described me. 

After we did that, the next assignment was to go home and make a piece of art including the words from my list that I could hang in my home as a regular reminder of who I am. Challenging assignment.

I put together my list and then headed home, thinking of all the unused frames I have in my closet that would be great for this project. For some reason this silver frame that had no glass in it, due to an unfortunate fall from the wall, came to my mind. I was pretty settled right away that it would be the foundation for my project.

Later that day I pulled the frame out. I knew I wanted something very simple. I wanted to use the matting in the frame. I flipped over the piece of paper that came in the back of the frame with the cheesy picture, size and other sales info listed on it and used the back of it for the base for my art piece. I do that a lot, just flip that sheet over and use it as the base for something else.

Then I pulled out my punch letters and started rummaging through them. The hard part of this project was all the spacing of the letters. It's not perfect, but I like it that way. I did the best I could. The punching out letters, laying them out and gluing them down took a good 90 minutes or so. Once I got them all affixed I found a lovely spot for the piece on the top shelf of the small bookcase near my work space. It's quite perfect there with the yellow lamp and orange pot.

This piece was a real journey. It's a doorway to a continued journey of self-discover, self-care and self-love. It is a tricky business finding our comfortable spot in loving ourselves without arrogance, accepting ourselves while being imperfect and striving to improve ourselves at a reasonable, logical pace. The key is truly the journey and how we care for ourselves along the way.

19 August 2014

Easy Chocolate Fudge Crackle Ice Cream Topping

This post could also be titled Great Things To Do With Trader Joes Coconut Oil and Chocolate Chips. I didn't invent this, I am just passing it along from the geniuses at Trader Joes. If you need a little midweek pick-me-up this might be just the treat to do it!

There's nothing better while shopping at Trader Joes (besides the amazing prices!) than getting a tasty treat at the sample counter. On a Saturday night recently after a movie we popped in to pick up a few things. At the tasting table there was ice cream with chocolate crackle topping. It was SO good. So we inquired further and got the very complicated (not) recipe firsthand and immediately bought a bag of Trader Joes semi-sweet chocolate chips.

By the way the woman at the food bar said she believes these are the best chocolate chips available and that she uses them exclusively. That is a pretty good recommendation. I did like the flavor and I generally don't like semi-sweet chocolate. I'm a milk chocolate girl all the way.

My favorite chocolate chips are Guittard milk chocolate which I have sworn by for years. Unfortunately TJs doesn't sell milk chocolate chips as least that's what I heard at the store we were at. So I won't be able totally switching over.

After making this recipe at home I am sure I would like it much more if it were milk chocolate, but that's just me. Most people like a little bit darker chocolate than I do. I have just never liked semi-sweet or dark chocolate.

Here's the easy recipe. Melt chocolate and mix with coconut oil until you get a fudge sauce consistency. When the sauce hits the ice cream it solidifies to a yummy crackly topping. So good.

More details. I usually melt my chocolate in the microwave. For a cup of chocolate chips or candy chocolate I use about one minute on high in the microwave. I usually use my two-cup glass liquid measuring cup to do this because it has a handy handle to hold onto while I stir the chocolate a time or two during the process.

Once your chocolate is melted you can start adding the coconut oil little by little. I keep my coconut oil in the fridge to hopefully keep it fresher. This keeps it a cold solid so it takes a little more work to get it melted. I just scooped it out with a spoon and added it to the chocolate and stirred it in. It melted down just fine from the heat of the chocolate. You can always pop the bowl back in the microwave for a few seconds if you a more heat to melt down the coconut oil.

Two Sundays ago I whipped up a pan of my favorite simple brownies, and a quick batch of homemade vanilla ice cream (super easy with this), and with some serious plans for this new chocolate crackle topping. Let me just say no one in the house was opposed to my idea and it was greatly enjoyed!

This would be a great idea for a dinner party dessert too. You can make the brownies the day before, of course you can just buy ice cream instead of make it, and the topping you can whip up while chatting with guests in just a couple of minutes. It's fast and easy to plate up too.

You can make it super glam if you decorate the plate a bit with some strawberry, caramel or vanilla topping in a squeeze tube before you put plate the actual dessert. Here are some great ideas for plate decorating with sauces.

If you try it, let me know how it goes!

image by kalanicut

18 August 2014

Now Is My Time #31: Self-care Means I Like Myself Better

image via IKEA

I was looking in the mirror last week while I was taking off my makeup. It had been a good day and I caught myself smiling at myself and cheering myself on. For some reason the phrase "Good job, you" goes through my head every once in a while when I do something hard and I heard it that night.

It comes from a deep, spiritual and positive place and is always so organic that it feels like it's coming from another person, but I think it's really coming from the heart of me, from my most authentic, actualized place. Maybe that's my spirit, the one God gave me, talking.

I smiled at myself and thought, "You look good." I don't say or think that very often, especially as the years start creeping by too fast. So I started wondering where that thought came from. I realized I looked pretty good (not tired) and I felt really good - it had been a good day, I was rested, happy, etc. It dawned on my that looking good, feeling good and liking myself were all very inherently tied into taking care of myself and loving myself.

And here was the light bulb moment:

Liking oneself is the result of self-care!

Shazam! Lesson learned. When we are kind to others we feel closer to them. When we are kind to ourselves the same happens. When we take good care of ourselves we are indeed better but we can also feel happier, gentler to ourselves and so much more balanced and sane. This self-care business is a total win-win situation.

15 August 2014

The Great Thrift Store Rug Saga

Okay so I showed you this rug yesterday and told you all about how I talked myself out of it and did not buy it. I thought I was getting caught up in the name brand, maybe it was a style that was fading out, it was a little dirty, etc. But that first day I looked at it I thought surely it could be cute somewhere, in the "next house." After I left just saying that to myself made me want to run back over there and get it, but I resisted!

One of the reasons I resisted was that I thought perhaps it would need professional cleaning. Not too long ago I had gotten a bid to clean a 9' x 12' rug I already own and it was several hundred dollars. I thought it would be no savings to buy this and then spend a small fortune cleaning it.

The next day (Day 2) when I saw the 9' x 12' version of the rug is on sale right now at West Elm for $750, I had to reconsider. I realized this rug wasn't that old and that it still had some style life in it. I dropped everything, dashed across the block back to the thrift store hoping it was still there. IT WAS! I rolled it out, looked at it again and thought, do I really want a mostly cream colored rug? The answer was no. Cream colored carpet in our current apartment has been a nightmare. I thought that keeping it clean would drive me crazy and on top of that, cream isn't a color I really like.

So I walked away a second time. I also noticed this time that some of the threads along the edges were frayed and it was a little dingier than I remembered. So we left empty-handed. But I was glad I went back and was absolutely sure of my decision.

I photographed the rug, (above) and when I got home I thought "Dang it photographs well in a terrible space," and it made me like it all over again...but I had made my decision and put it out of my head and forgot all about it.

The next day (Day 3), having moved on with my life and the obsession with this rug,  I started getting ads for this rug from West Elm all over the internet as I was going about my day. Obviously the internet gods has picked up on the fact I'd performed a searched the day before for this rug. I smiled and went about my business. Later that afternoon I was doing some meditation and one of the meditations I've been doing is for my dream next home.

When I finished my short meditation I had some ideas floating around in my head from my visualizations and I was inspired to hop up and take down a few notes. The color gray kept coming into my notes and then yet again there was the gray and cream rug in ads everywhere I went on the internet. I started wanting that rug again. I knew it would go well in any room in the house....that mystical next house or even in our current living room if it was cleaned.

I did some research on rug cleaning costs and found a local place that would clean it for about $60-80. That was a little more practical and I also read up on "how to" instructions to do it myself. I just don't have an easy space to be spraying a rug this big with a hose and washing it out and letting it dry.

Once I knew 1) it was possible to clean it pretty easily, 2) that it fit right into the color scheme and thoughts I had for my home going forward, 3) that the cream really isn't that yellowy and 4) I realized that I still REALLY liked that rug, I jumped back in my car and raced to the thrift store with a beating heart hoping that it was STILL there.

While I was searching around for a parking place my worst fear was that someone would walk out holding the rug while I was still in the parking lot. It was like I'd been dating a guy for five years telling myself he was just a friend and then it has dawned on me all of a sudden that HE was the one. It was epic love story, gotta get that rug action.

We finally found a parking spot and eyeing every customer leaving the store I didn't not see the rug in anyone's hands, thank goodness! The Bug by this point thought I was a complete nut for all the going back and forth on this rug. When I told her I wanted to go back for it she shook her head and laughed at me. But once we got into the store she began running to the back to make sure that rug was there waiting for me. It was, we grabbed it and headed right for the register. Moments later, we were stuffing it into my car and headed home.

Before I even took it into the house I hung it over the railing of our front walkway and swept both sides well with the broom and tried to beat it a bit without making too much noise (impossible.) Then I grabbed our heavy duty insect spray that will kill any kind of bug that likes to infest homes, fabrics and carpets. I sprayed both sides well and then let it dry.

The next step was to bring it in the house. I moved a couple of chairs and put it in the easiest, most open space available -- The main walkway between our living room and dining room. Had The Man been here that would've not been a viable option, but The Bug and I, in all our tender care for the rug were more than happy to tip toe around the sides for a while. I vacuumed both sides very well. I did the front, then the back then the front again. Every time we passed over a section, The Bug and I both thought it looked brighter.

At that point I was going to just roll it up until I decided what to do with it. Then I found myself pulling out the spray carpet cleaner in an attempt to clean up any dark spots on the rug. It's pretty easy to see the traffic pattern from the previous owners. The edges are stained and more soiled but the center of the rug is in good shape. So I did some spot cleaning in the middle of the long sides of the rug where almost all the real stains were. The rug was looking even better quite soon after a few minutes of gentle scrubbing with a nice wet towel.

By the next morning the rug was looking so great I decided to just place it in the center of our living room until we make our decisions on a move. I may try to clean it more. We'll just have to see how it goes. If we find out we're moving and we'll have space to clean it, say in a driveway or something I will wait and do that.

But I am so happy with this rug. Once it's clean it will be lovely and luxurious to walk on. Now that it's been vacuumed well it already feels pretty great under the feet.. It's a good neutral pattern and I know that wherever it finds a place in our home it will work just perfectly. This was a good experience for me to have to work through all this back and forth silliness and to finally make the decision I was really happy with.

It gave me a chance to think about how I listen to my instincts, how I talk myself into things and out of things. It also reminded me to consider all sides of a purchase before I make a decision: look at all facets of the item carefully, investigate and have a clear understanding of all the associated costs, know the monetary value and know the personal value I assign it.

I'm not sure how this will guide me next time I run into a similar situation but I'll definitely be thinking about it over the next little while and what lessons I can learn from The Great Thrift Store Rug Saga. Meanwhile I have this awesome rug in my closet. That makes me smile.

14 August 2014

Thrift Store Finds: Buffet, Rug And Hutch

More bad thrift store lighted photos, haha. Had to share these three great sightings from the thrift store recently. This very feminine mid-century hutch is so charming. I love the detailing from top to bottom and I like that it is not gargantuan in size. This would be so fun with the wood oiled well, or painted white, gray or some bright color.

I am dying for a place to store pitchers, bowls, trays, cake plate, fancy dessert cups, and my collection of kitchen colanders these days and this would be perfect. Plus there's room for tablecloths, cloth napkins and dish towels and aprons. One of the side cabinets would be a great place to hide all the picnic and party supplies too.
Safari Wool Rug
image via West Elm

While I was there I also saw a gray zebra stripe 5' x 8' West Elm rug (here's the WE web site version) that was hard to walk away from for a very small price. It needed some cleaning but it was in phenomenal shape. I asked myself if I would buy it at full price or even half price and I wasn't sure, so that was my answer. (There's more to this story. Check back tomorrow.)

Here is the third fantastic little find I came upon. It's laminate but would be lovely if painted. The brass pulls are great, the storage space is perfect and i love the simplicity all around. The legs are darling. This would make a great TV stand too. It's so easy to drill a round hole (using one of these) in the back for the cords to pop through. Plus  you wouldn't have to deal with doors that open out into the room space either.

This might be great is a bedroom or bathroom too. So many possibilities here. How about a baby changing table with all your supplies hidden below and a pretty changing pad on top?

There are so many great used home furnishings out there just waiting for a new home and someone with a vision to give them new life. I hope this inspires you to find something great and sturdy and repurpose it for your own space.

all other images by kalanicut

13 August 2014

A Visit To Culver City reDiscover Center

Open Studio & Warehouse
image via reDiscover.org

I am continually on the search for great things to do in Los Angeles that I have never heard of or done before. After searching a few websites full of fun things to do in the area I found reDiscover Center in Culver City.

It is a non-profit arts and education center that is a dream mecca for creative minds. You can read all about their history here. They collect all sorts of "junk" and provide it for kids and adults to create art with. Saturdays are open studio days and you can go in and make a project for $5 materials and supplies on hand included.

I couldn't even begin to list all the bits and pieces of things they had available in their warehouse of supplies to make art with but here's a short list:

  • fabric remnants
  • wood scraps in all shapes and sizes
  • ceramic tiles
  • cardboard boxes
  • CD cases
  • electronics
  • party supplies
  • cardboard tubes
  • pipes, nuts, bolts, plumbing tube, plastic tubing
  • maps & lots of different papers
  • linoleum tiles & carpet scraps
  •  foam balls
  • old wheels
  • string, ribbon, yarn and thread
It was quite amazing to see the things that have been made there and the fantastic creativity that can make such unbelievable things from junk. I just looked at bins and played around with ideas for over an hour. The Bug and The Man did the same. There were almost too many possibilities.

At one point I was going to make a trivet with glass tiles and wood. Then I found an old painted wood scrap that would've made a fantastic shelf. Then I found scraps that would make a great bench and a beautiful piece of woven faux leather that would be a perfect upholstered seat.

We found a remnant of fabric that would make a a lovely skirt with gorgeous embroidery all over the bottom of it. I found some beautiful ikat upholstery samples that would make gorgeous little pillows. Oh, my mind was spinning. And then I started getting overwhelmed. I should mention there is a whole aisle of tools you can use there as well including: hot glue guns, saws, vices, and more.

In the end The Bug pulled all the supplies she would need to make a fox: a plastic jug, gray fabric, beads and buttons, a pointy cone, a piece of cardboard tube, and some gray linoleum to make ears. All the supplies for one project cost $5.

That's an amazing price when you consider what you could pay at a craft store for the same supplies and how hard it would be to find such unique objects. We brought all the supplies home because it was getting late and the shop was getting ready to close soon and we did the project later that weekend.

Instead of doing a project I bought a few supplies to play with at home. I purchased the large piece of woven faux-leather and will definitely do some kind of upholstery project with it. Then I also picked up four Altoids boxes (great little boxes to paint and use as gift boxes, etc.). If you haven't been keeping up on the Altoids box craft projects out there, here's a link to Pinterest where tons of projects are posted. Quite impressive and seriously worth a lot. I'm talking about little doll beds, holiday ornaments, magnetic game boards, first aid kits and more.

I got the embroidered fabric to make a skirt and lastly The Man got a fish net party decoration (not exactly sure why...still thinking on that one.) The prices for all these items was $5 so in the end we spent $10 total.

Next time we'll have to get there earlier in the day. I had no idea there was so much to look at and how many options for creative projects there would be there. I am already scheming up some good project ideas from what I saw there. Now that I have an introduction to everything you can do there I can't wait to go back. I am making a mental note of all my artist friends I would love to take there too. What a fun couples date, girls outing or playdate reDiscover Center would be.

Another thing I love about reDiscover Center is that it is that place I've been wanting to find where I could recycle bits and pieces of things I hate to throw away that always seem like they still have some use to them. You can give them small increments of things like three or four party paper plates, bits of ribbon, craft supplies, wood scraps, old greeting cards, shipping tubes, bits of fabric, old jars or old lids you don't have jars for. They will take little bits of just about anything.

I am so happy to think someone can make art out of the little things I hate to throw away! -- and relieved that I don't have to feel obligated to make something with it just because I don't want to add it to the garbage dump.

Here's a link to a map and directions. I am so happy to have found reDiscover Center in Culver City. I'm a big fan of Culver City for lots of reasons and this is just another great reason I am fond of Culver and will keep supporting business and growth there.

12 August 2014

Roundup: 18 Pairs of Gorgeous Ankle Boots

I have had ankle boots (booties) on the mind the past few weeks, thinking about fall wardrobe and how to incorporate a love of boots with living in a warm climate. I thought I would do a quick roundup of some favorites and after some initial searching did not have very high hopes I could find much that I really liked. That was before my visit to Zappos.com. Holy smokes. I did see a lot that I didn't like but I was thrilled to see how many pairs I did really like.

Here are 18 pairs that I loved. The price range on these boots goes from around $50 all the way up to $500+ but they all fit into a good range of price options.

Ash Falcon: (above). I always love a harness boot and these have a great heel too.

Type Z Edward: I love the rich color on this pair and the varigated sole. They look stylish, yet comfortable.

Rocket Dog Camilla: These have comfy written all over them. I like the styling, the great looking leather and the "I can stand or walk in these all day" heel. These are on the low end of the price scale too.

Frye Anna Shortie: When I hear the word Frye a sigh comes from the deepest point of my heart. Frye boots are just fantastic. I like the worn-in feel of these and the chocolatey leather is amazing.

Gia Circus by Sam Edelman: These remind me of something you would see in an action adventure movie on a girl working on a space ship or riding a space-age motorcycle through a science fiction war zone. Fun, simple and yet with a real space-agey twist.

See by Chloe: These are just gorgeous and I think the high, slim ankle is so flattering. These can be dressed up or down. I see "dressed up adventure girl" in these.

Stuart Weitzman Chloe: The mere mention of this brand tells you these are going to be on the higher end of the price range spectrum. But they are gorgeous and with that chunky sole they might be better for colder, slippery winter climates that others. Sleek and so stylish.

Madden Girl Sharpen: I am not such a huge fan of the big "elf toe" trend going on right now with shoes. The turned up nose bugs, but these are doable. It's the detailing, leather and heel that make me forget all about that with these beauties.

Pikolinos Verona: Again great leather. Love the detailing with the varying straps and metal accents.

Nine West Jarrad: I like the lower heel on these with the high, sleek ankle and zipper back entry. Simple and yet statement making.

Lucky Brand Tolachina: Suede has been a big part of the ankle boot look the past couple of years. These hit that point and with a lower heel again for days when you don't need to tower over everyone you meet. I love a good four-inch heel but when it bumps me up to 6'2" tall it just doesn't always work. These are a great height for a heel without the overpowering height issues.

Timberland Earthkeepers Savin Hill: I love, love, love these. They are for sure on my list for this year. I love the heel height for practicality's sake, love the leather, love the toe and the soul. Great all around, every day boot.

Frye Veronica Back Zip: Combat ready, these lovely Frye's are on the "don't mess with me" side. Great for a day at a flea market or a rainy Saturday afternoon at the movies.

Ugg Darling: Based on the brand I am going to guess these have sheepskin inside, which is not the greatest for warm climate living, but I like these a lot. Love the color, the heel, rubber sole and notched side.

Teva De La Vina Low: These look great for lots of walking with the rubber sole. Great looking walking shoes, especially for winter aren't always easy to find. I think these hit the mark. I can see walking a few miles in NYC in these. Detailing is fun, unique and not too crazy.

Pikolinos Le Mans: These boots have some fun little details all over them. I can see these with a pretty wool skirt and tights or a great pair of wool pants. The sole looks great for rough weather too.

Frye Veronica Combat: These feel like a grown up Doc Marten boot a bit don't they. I love the old school simplicity and again they're Frye. Great for jeans and a big cozy sweater.

Frye Smith Harness Short: These are a classic and I kind of wonder if they will ever go out of style. They've been around forever and they don't seem to be going anywhere. I have the tall Frye Harness boots and love them. The short would be a great addition too. Fun with straight leg jeans.

So that is the ankle boot roundup. I could've gone on and on but had to reign myself in. Maybe I'll do another boot round up in a few weeks, but hopefully you have some great ideas you might like to add to your wardrobe here no matter your style.

It's a great time to buy boots right now while there is a good selection of styles and sizes. Once the cooler weather hits they'll start disappearing off shelves quickly. I'm thinking a jacket and sweater roundup may be on their way soon.

*all  images via Zappos.com

11 August 2014

Now Is My Time #30: Seven Month Report

I meant to do a six month report but we were out of town that week and I guess it just slipped off the radar. But I thought it would be great to do a mid-year roundup of my This is My Time initiative. Here are a few things I can report as progress, which was the big goal for this year.

1) Self-care: Wow, what a difference six months makes. I am so much better at regulating my well-being. I think there are a few things that have factored into that. I am getting more rest, eating meals at more regulated times and making sure I take snacks and water with me when I go out. Those are just the little things. In every way possible I am making sure that I keep myself well. Guess who hasn't been sick this year. I can't remember the last time I had a pesky cold, sinus infection, or other annoyance of that variety.

2) Time Management: I am thinking daily about how I use my precious time. I have done a lot more things this year that I enjoy doing. I take time to paint and do other creative projects when I feel like it. I keep those needs on the radar. They are needs. There is a part of myself I connect with through artistic endeavors and I need that time.

It's easy to spend hours on the computer or watching TV or other activities that may seem restful or relaxing but in the end, for me, don't rejuvenate me. So when I have free time I want to use it doing something that feeds my soul and brings me genuine happiness, rather than fleeting entertainment.

So making time for more meaningful activities every week has added a real element of greater joy to my life. I think much more about how I use my time. I ask myself "Is this what I most want to be doing with this evening (or this hour of free time I have)?" I spend less time on frivolous things and more time doing things that really feed my soul. I also find that the more I look for free time to do those things, the more visible and accessible it is.

3) Meditation And Emotional Balance: These two definitely go hand-in-hand. I have learned to be so much more aware of how I'm feeling emotionally. I have learned that often our emotions or stress levels are way out of balance before we finally notice them. The sooner we notice we are not feeling quite right, the quicker we can take measures to keep ourselves in a healthy place.

When we're in that healthy, calm place we are better communicators and decision makers. That means we also have a calmer environment around us and better relationships too. I have learned to recognize much faster when I am feeling out of sorts and I try to take immediate action to get to a calmer state rather than waiting until I am full blown angry, frustrated or sad.

Meditation has been a big part of that. If I wake up feeling stressed I immediately do a guided meditation that addresses what I'm feeling. After just a few minutes I feel calmer and am able to jump into my day feeling empowered and in a good place -- plus much more relaxed. I can do this any time of day if I take a few minutes to do a breathing exercise or a short walk, whatever is doable in the situation to bring my stress, fear, frustration or anxiety level down.

4) Gentleness And Kindness: One of the big lessons of this year has been learning to be more gentle with myself. It's so easy to put such intense expectations on oneself. Sometimes events of the past haunts us and keep us from being able to move forward. When I am gentle and kind with myself I give myself room to be imperfect, feel worthy of love and hope for great things to come. We have to feel we deserve those things and often times we don't give ourselves that grace, even when it's easy to extend it to everyone around us. Learning to be loving and kind to myself has been a big lesson and practice for me this year.

5) Gratitude: The lessons of gratitude never seem to end. There is always more to be grateful for and more beauty and blessings to recognize. This year I have felt increased gratitude for small moments of happiness each day, for friends new and old, and for the endurance and strength to do hard things. I appreciate more than ever the blessings of good health, home and family.

When I signed up for Instagram earlier this year I realized it was a way for me to be more grateful, to lift my head up and see more of the beauty around me. I have stopped many times to snap a photo and enjoy a view I might have missed. Finding gratitude in small things seems to make one more grateful for everything.

Those are just a few of the life lessons I have learned this year. I have had the chance to learn from some amazing people this year who I have met in many different arenas. I am so grateful for their influence in my life. Thank you too, dear readers and blogging friends. I learn so much from you too. Wishing you a beautiful day and week to come.

08 August 2014

Pier One Table Lamps

Can you handle two lighting posts in a week? Hope so. My original hanging lighting post got me wondering what some of the other retailers were up to in the lighting area. So I started doing a little research. I thought today I would share some favorite table lamps from Pier One.

Honeycomb Lamp: I like the texture, shape and color of this lamp. I like that lighting is venturing into some new shapes, clearly inspired by vintage stylings. The beautiful deep blue of the shade would fit well in a beach house environment or a room filled with dark grays, wouldn't it?

Sphere Lamp: This has 60s grandma house written all over it and I think that is what I love so much about it's updated yet old-school look. This small lamp makes a great statement. I must have blues on the brain.

Teardrop Luxe Lamp: This feels like such a grown up girl lamp. Yet I can see it working in a very formal environment or being a great mix to bring into a casual environment to give it a little upscale va-voom. It's neutral color tones would make it a subtle and elegant addition to a colorful space.

Crackle Ombre Table Lamp: I like the height of this lamp and the gradient color of course. It's a piece that could fit into a lot of environments quite nicely. I like the mossy greenness of it.

Urn-Shaped Glass Lamp: Speaking of mossy greens, this is a nice breakaway from all the blues, right? I love the look and color of the glass and the shade is graceful, natural and understated. This feels like a lamp one would find in a cozy den during the fall season. Can't you just see it, cup of tea on the coffee table, sleepy, peaceful music playing....you're wearing a gorgeous, chunky turtleneck fisherman's sweater...chatting with charming friends. It's a vision.

Infinity Table Lamp: I love the shape and simplicity of this lamp. You could put this in a spa or a brightly colored living room. It speaks a certain peacefulness and gracefulness that is always nice to find in a lamp. It seems like a lamp that would compliment any environment without taking anything away from any other design elements. This would go great in my home right now and I'm sure a future home as well.

While I am scheming up our next home in my visionary mind, it's a great time to see what is out there in the design realm right now. It's fun to start pulling ideas together. It saves a lot of time when you're ready to shop if you've already done some research. I've been working on a new vision board this week and I definitely am putting some home inspiration on it.

Thanks for coming by. It's great to meet here with you!

all images via Pier One
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