03 December 2015

Heights House 5: Removing The Indoor Planters

Wanted to share with you a quick recap of the updates we made to our kitchen and dining room. When I first looked at our new home online, very early in the year, I overlooked it very quickly. There was a weird, tall, spindly tree growing in the kitchen and two big, gaping planters stretching across the front of the kitchen and fireplace in the dining room. Bleck.

(credit unknown)

The house needed some major updates and the quirks were a little too weird for me. Months later after looking at hundreds of houses, this house had been taken off the market and put back on the market. The listing for some reason only showed photos of the outside of the house so I did not realize it was the same house until I did further research and found the house listed on Zillow with lots of photos that I recognized having seen earlier in the year. By now we had decided on this exact neighborhood and were only looking for houses in that area. This house, strangely, fit a lot of our criteria and so we decided to take a look at it. The next day we put in an offer.

Once we closed on the house our first agenda point was to remove the planters and extend the brick flooring. One Saturday we just started digging up dirt and cutting down the strange, now dying trees. We each started with new work goggles, gloves and new shovels. In some strange turn of nostalgia, I asked The Man to save the tops of the trees, as he was cutting it all down, because it seemed they could be rooted and replanted. A couple of months later, they are rooted and ready to be replanted. I just need to get planters and soil and pot them. Then we'll find a spot for them in the house. I hope they will make a nice addition to the greenery around the house and remind us of all the progress we've made in that house.

images kalanicut

We spent several days tearing up the planters and carrying out dozens of 5-gallon buckets full of dirt and rocks. At this point we turned things over to our contractor who is helping us with small projects. Her team came in and leveled off the ground, removed the brick from the laundry room to fill in the kitchen and dining room floors where the planters had been. It was lovely to see it get done and really increased the size of the two rooms in a nice way.

There was some water damage on the large kitchen wall from the faucet that fed the planters. The contractor's team patched the wall and I found matching paint in the garage and patched up the paint work in the area.

The entire area feels much roomier now and the brick floors turned out nicely. It's interesting that these floors do not have concrete-like mortar to hold them together but rather it's all set in sand. We have a bucket full of sand to continue to fill the spaces as the sand settles a bit during the first few months.

I do love the rustic feel of the brick. It's different, off-beat and old-school. I like how it is not perfect. It's actually quite quirky. The floors are not perfectly even by any means. But the rustic feeling goes with the rest of the brick floor that extends from the garage entryway across the kitchen and dining room.

Our goal is to get a built in seating area of some sort around the base of the fireplace but for right now we have a sofa that we've put along the staircase wall and we might add a chair and small table for the time being. This was a big and pretty expensive project but it was a must right away. I am quite excited to get the wall across from the bar set up with bookcases for cookbooks and pretty dishes and some nice piece of art.

I will share a little bit about organizing the kitchen soon. Things are coming along but it still feels like there is a long way to go. But it's starting to feel more homey each day.

13 November 2015

Finding The Right Family Calendar

One of the big goals for the new house was to find a way to keep a family calendar we could all depend on and to put it in a place where it was passed by frequently yet not too much of an eyesore. I looked on Pinterest at so many of the wall-size chalkboard calendars and had mixed emotions. I liked the idea in theory but when I thought about having such a public display of our calendared events I felt it lacked a good deal of privacy.

image via Paper Source

So I kept looking and happily came upon this calendar at Paper Source that I think will be quite perfect. In fact I bought two of them, one for our back entryway/kitchen and the other for my office. I love the clean look and down-to-earth styling. I think it will be quite lovely for tracking music lessons, doctors appointments and other activities.

I happened to be cleaning out my email inbox today and realized Paper Source was having a 20% off sale for two days so I grabbed the cold and saved some bucks on my investment. I did like quite a few different calendars at Paper Source. I have always believed that my calendar should be something I really like if I'm going to depend on it and need to look at it every day. This calendar will for sure keep me cheery. Can't wait to set up out little entryway off the garage with a spot for keys and our family calendar. It will be just inside our door from the garage and the spot where we'll keep bags, coats and boots, grab or drop car keys and stop as we go in and out the door.

I am thinking I will try to find some sort of wood frame or patterned bulletin board to hang this pretty calendar on. Once it comes I'll have to experiment with it in the space above the foyer table we've put there so far. Having our family organization area put together will be a big step towards making the house our own and feeling settled there. Each day we make improvements it feels a little more ike home. It's fun to think that in six months we'll be comfortable and happily settled there.

11 November 2015

Year To Shine: Looking Back

In Fall 2014 I started thinking about my theme for 2015. I settled on the word SHINE and made 2015 my Year To Shine. I had hoped to write a post about SHINE every week but that certainly didn't happen this year. But I did do my best to live SHINE.

I created this fun sign for my office as daily inspiration and I looked for things I could to to make myself more shiny and energetic. I found exercise helped me to be more shiny. Remembering to smile made me more shiny.

Shine was perhaps one of the most challenging goals I could've chosen for this year based purely on the year we've had. It has been rich, joyful and exciting and at the same time lonely, sad, difficult and discouraging. Isn't it amazing how rich life can be with ups and downs! Wow, wow, wow.

I am learning though that what we most remember as we go forward are the beautiful, grand days and joyful, magical little moments with people we love. Somehow this allows the grandly disastrous, heartbreaking days to pass a little easier and be forgotten more quickly. A strange life truth.

As the days are getting darker with the oncoming winter, I am thinking about shining a light in the darkness. White lights on the trees, candles burning on tables and mantles. It's a great reminder to shiny myself. With a few more weeks to focus on letting my light SHINE I starting to think about what my theme will be for 2016. It's coming up quickly. Ah, an idea just came to me as I was typing this. That will have to wait for another day.

Did you have a goal for 2015? How has that been going for you? I'd love to hear about your journey.

09 November 2015

Heights House 4: The Good, Bad & Ugly

Never let it be said that buying, renovating and moving into a new home is glamorous and fun non-stop. Anyone who would say that has probably forgotten about the long days and late nights of work, the trial and error of DIY projects, the heavy lifting and all the negotiation that goes on to get decisions made and moved to completion.

To say we are feeling a little weary would be a bit of an understatement. But we have to charge forward and wrap things up. Two weekends ago we went through our storage unit from CA and thinned through everything and took a big load of stuff to the house. The past week we have been going through two small pods from LA.

There is very little left in the ABQ storage unit now. There is some stuff at the house that can probably go to storage from one of the other loads but we'll figure that out when we have a chance - and clear that unit out soon once and for all. Moving and merging two households is not an easy feat. There is a big yard sale in our very near future. That too will be a big feat but hopefully a happy and cleansing one too.

We had been waiting for flooring for two of the bedrooms and the laundry room. We got the laundry room done a week ago Friday. About the same time I called Home Depot to check on the carpet we'd ordered several weeks earlier only to find out that they had never put the order through. Not wanting to wait another month we decided to just stay with the old tan carpet for now. Frustrating but an $800 savings.

On cheerier notes, we do have the dining table and chairs set up in the dining room and have begun to arrange the living room. Rug and couches and chairs are in order and we are really happy with how things are looking. Little by little it's beginning to feel like someplace we'll want to live. It's taking a lot of time.

We took all but one night off this week and just relaxed, cooked dinners at home and watched movies together. It was much needed and quite therapeutic to have a rest. We were all feeling a little extra tired and I think a break was well-deserved.

Hopefully this week we'll be able to get the office, kiddo's bedroom and laundry room set up which will give us a lot more space in the house once we get the furniture moved into place and all the laundry room cabinets in the family room put back into place. That right there sounds pretty fantastic. That will be a great step forward! Right now there is a mountain of boxes and furniture in the garage and on one side of the family room and living room.

I think this blog posts reads as jumbled as I feel. But this is an honest update as to the glamour of home ownership for sure, haha. It's not all a Pinterest board! Hopefully this time next week we'll have three rooms set up and livable. Hooray for that!

In the meantime I am loving the view from the dining room and kitchen windows over the beautiful back patio and pool and overlooking the city. Such a gorgeous place to sit, eat dinner and relax or do dishes by the sink. From the living room  we have a full wall of windows and a beautiful mountain view. In the midst of the chaos there is much to appreciate it.

08 October 2015

Surprises When You Move From California

I had to write a little post about the adjustment process of leaving California. Despite all the things about California that are frustrating, there is a lot to love too and having spent most of my adult life there, it's hard to say goodbye to the conveniences Los Angeles afforded! So here are a few things you don't think about when you leave California for a new life:

1) You can't buy shorts year-round in other places...WHAT?!

2) You can't just say "Hey I feel like going to Disneyland" any time you want, get in your car and be there in 40 minutes....Bummer.

3) Apparently fruit goes out of season in other states...honeycrisp apples "out of season"? why can you buy them in CA all the time?...Lame.

4) The farther you get from the coast the less flavor strawberries have and the faster they go bad...Sad.

5) In other states the same chain stores are smaller and carry less variety and merchandise...Tragedy!

6) Good luck finding restaurants that stay open past 9 or 10 pm - even on a Saturday....Had to start a list of places where we could actually get a meal after 10 with addressses.

7) In other states if a store doesn't have something you want you can't just head over to one of the other 10 locations within 30 minutes of your house....(One HomeGoods in the entire state? WAH...)

8) Things you take for granted, like beaches get really far away when you move inland....Bone dry.

9) Nail salons charged higher rates but then you don't pay a ton for every little $5 extra....More relaxing.

10) You can see the stars at night without all the glare of the city lights....Stellar!

Thankfully I committed myself to love all the great new things about our new home and treasure the things I appreciated about life in California. It's still a transition but committing to see the good and be positive has paid off daily!

Life Lessons: Excel At The Priorities

A few weeks ago, at the end of a long week in the office, I sat at my desk at the end of business hours with my face in my hands, frustrated and a little teary-eyed. My boss just happened to appear in my doorway at that moment and said, "You're frustrated."

I looked up, apologized and said I was just tired and still had our monthly report to do that was due first thing Monday morning. Taking it home sounded a little ominous at that point because I would have to prepare a lot of files and organize a bunch of emails for me to access to do it. She offered some thoughts on how to make that easier and in the end I ended up staying at the office and was able to get the report done in about 40 minutes.

This is a report that in my first few months on the job took me three hours to pull together frequently. I was so happy to realize that I was getting the hang of things around there and could do things that one seemed so hard much more quickly now that I had been managing and organizing the process myself for a while and knew where things were and what the data meant.

I thought about that day frequently over the next few days. I tried to understand what it was that made me feel so hopeless and frustrated. I later realized that what was frustrating me so much is that I wanted to really excel at my job but there were so many worthy and often critical projects on the table that I felt rushed and unable to do a good job at anything but rather running in crisis mode often trying to just make the deadlines and frequently feeling disappointed that due to workload it was difficult to give everything it's rightful attention. That IS frustrating.

As I continued to mull these thoughts over, my boss said two more things that impacted me. One was "we need to do the best for the city" and the other was "is this project 'neat' or is it a 'need." These two phrases rambled around in my head for a couple of days and then a lightbulb went on in my head.

I did not have to excel at EVERYTHING. I only needed to excel at the top priorities. I tend to get a lot of 'neat' ideas, but they are all "needed." That took a huge burden off my shoulders when I began to prioritize and it allowed me to breathe freely again without feeling so frustrated. I have repeated this to myself over and over again, just excel at the priorities. I think this has helped me be a better employee, a better support to the organization and I think I'm doing a better job focusing on what is best for each project and how I can better support our awesome team.

I still have a lot of learning to do, but for the past few weeks this has been an important lesson. I don't have to be excellent at every single thing a mom can do, I just have to be excellent at the priorities my kiddo needs. Will I be able to do EVERYTHING I see every other mom doing -- No, but I can do what is best for my kiddo.

I don't have to be involved in everything perfectly at church, I just have to prioritize what I can do and participate it. I don't have to be an 'I can do everything' wife but I can watch for what is most needed and appreciated from me and do those things. Can I give our new house 100% of my attention right now? No, but I can give it my time and energies when I can and work the most effectively that I can while I am there. Last week that mean going over and pulling out 30-year-old contact paper from the kitchen cupboards.

Another important priority is me. I can't do everything I want or everything I need every day, but I sure can take SOME time to care for me each day. Whether that means a great meal, more sleep, a nice long shower or bath, or just buying myself a couple of magazines. Last week I picked up the latest HGTV magazine and the big, beautiful issue of one of the fall fashion magazines. When I got home quite late from work on Friday night, we all climbed on our bed and brought something to read or look at and just relaxed. It was a great activity and I tabbed some pages in the HGTV fall issue that might inspire some good stuff at the house and made a list of some great places to save big on home furnishings.

The days keep moving along and life stays busy but it's sure nice to tie the days' experiences together by learning from them and finding ways to work smarter and make my/our lives easier going forward. I am so glad I have these clarifying thoughts that are helping me do better and be better in every area of my life. Now I just need to keep working at these goals....until the end of my life...haha. I guess this all goes back, as I'm thinking about it, to my goal for this year "SHINE" and I'm finding ways to shine more at fewer things. Good stuff!

06 October 2015

Heights House 3: Big Savings On Washer & Dryer

We've all seen the gorgeous laundry rooms pinned all over Pinterest. At some point it became a necessity to have a stylish laundry room with the top of the line, prettiest colored washer and dryer. Yes there are some really cute rooms out there and of course who wants an ugly laundry room. But right now my real priority is creating a happy, peaceful, comfortable AND stylish home for my family on a budget.

There are so many places to put money and throwing down $3000 to have the cutest washer and dryer in the world doesn't even register. I need something that's big enough to wash sheets and blankets that can also be gentle enough to wash fine delicates as they call them.

So I turned to Craigslist once again and found quite a few fantastic deals. There's one things I've learned about Albuquerque's Craigslist...people don't remove their postings after their stuff in sold. In LA, this happened pretty much immediately. The other thing I've learned here is that when you respond to their posts, people don't ever reply if they've sold things. I jumped right on a great deal for a nearly new washer/dryer set the first day and never heard a word back. I was hoping originally to find something I could buy "from owner."

Once that didn't seem to be panning out, I started checking the dealer listings. We found a nice set, in good condition for $250 and they are heavy duty/extra large load size. Such a good deal for us and I don't feel bad if I work them hard. The sale included free delivery and my husband talked them from a 90-day warranty to a 6-month warranty. They're refurbished obviously but they are working for us.

Since the washer in the place where we are now died a few weeks ago, as I mentioned in the flood story, my husband asked to buy another washer from these guys and he got a great deal bundling the three purchases and with free delivery to two different houses and help setting everything up. Good deal indeed.

Now sure I'm going to do what I can to pretty up the laundry room. It's nice and big with lots of counter space to sort, fold and stack clothes.It also has a lot of storage space which is great. It also has a space for our other refrigerator or to put a freezer in there instead. Our house doesn't have a lot of rooms in it, but happily all the rooms are a good size except maybe the two other bedrooms which certainly are a decent enough size. But there is plenty of room outside and in all the main rooms of the house to spread out.

Last week we hiring a contractor to fill in the kitchen and dining room floors where there were once giant indoor planters. I'll share the details soon. But we removed the gorgeous brick floors in the laundry room to use the brick to fill in the floor in the kitchen/dining room.  It's sort of massive and then so 'the right thing to do' for the best interests of the kitchen and dining room. We're robbing Peter to pay Paul in a sense.

So that's how we saved big money on the biggest investments our laundry room will need. Now it's just a little updating and accessorizing. If I do things right I will love my laundry room just as much with my $250 washer and dryer set than anything I could've done with a $3000 set. Here's to happy, peaceful, stylish living on a budget!

02 October 2015

Heights House 2: Buy Used Tools And Borrow From Friends

We learned within a day or two of closing on our house that we would likely be stopping at Lowe's or Home Depot nearly daily or at least multiple times a week if we were going to quickly pull this house together. And boy howdy, those trips can get expensive when you start buying things like tools and ladders, painting and yard equipment.

So I decided to start watching Craigslist tools and free stuff sections for good quality used tools and equipment. It's amazing what you can find when you look around for it. Sometimes I would find truckloads or tool benches full of tools for sale. Other times old ladders and things. Here is a little list of great things I've seen available for sale in the tool section:

  • Camping/Hauling Trailer with a dropdown tailgate & locking storage boxes -- just $400.
  • Band and Circular Saws with Table
  • Drill Sets
  • Vices
  • Rolling Tool Carts
  • Generator
  • Scaffolding & much more.
We also got smart that we have family and friends nearby who own ladders and other tools that they rarely use and are glad to let us borrow for a brief time. I am a real stickler on not putting people out and not being an irresponsible borrower. So I try to only borrow tools for a set time and try never to get lazy or forgetful about returning things as quickly as possible. Tools also get returned with a nice little thank you treat and card whenever possible.

There are a lot of expenses involved in fixing up a house and some tool and equipment purchases are necessary but if you can save money on your purchases or borrow the things you only need for a very short period of time, that savings can really stack up quickly.

Right now we'd much rather give that money to contractors we hire to do the few but major fixes we don't think are too smart to do or are too time consuming to do ourselves. First priority is getting the concrete and brick planter boxes out of the kitchen/dining room and filling in the space with matching brick flooring.

Thankfully we have found a way to solve the needed brick problem that I think is going to work out great. We're making final arrangements on that with the contractor and it looks like we can have the work done by the end of this week. That is some very exciting news and the number one major fix we want to make to the house right now. Can't wait to see it finished. More to come on the house fix ups and I have a post I need to write up about a great work/life/sanity balance lesson I have learned in recent weeks to give you a break from all the house talk.

Hope you are doing well. It's so lovely to hear from you on comments here, on Instagram and FB. It makes me feel not so far away from this world when I am at work for so many hours each week. I do love my job but I very much miss my daily interactions with blog friends and followers. Thanks for staying close. It helps me be brave to do the things I have to do and happy to feel connected to the things that make me very happy and feed my soul.

30 September 2015

Living In Daily Consciousness

As we have been going on this now somewhat long life journey of a move (8 months and counting), it has been full of good life lessons. One of those I've been thinking about this past week is trying to make sure I am living consciously in my body every day. Sounds simple enough, but what a challenge that actually is to live in the present moment, consciously in our own bodies. Our bodies talk to us, they are critical to us learning to enjoy and savor life, they warn us when needed and they teach us hard lessons when we don't slow down as needed.

I've always thought it was interesting that when our bodies tell us we need to eat, it starts with almost a simple whisper saying, "You need to eat." When we brush that off, our stomachs might growl. When we continue to ignore the alerts from our body we might next fall into an energy slump. If we continue to ignore the body's call we may end up with a headache or fainting spell - and eventually things will get much worse if the body is not fed. Our bodies actually have the capability to knock us out if it feels it needs to protect us. The body will continue to amp up the energy and attention grabbing it needs to get us to take care of it properly.

Learning to listen to the body in the beginning stages of a warning is much better than waiting for it to scream for our attention. Similar things happen when we don't get enough sleep, water, rest, etc. Just like we listen to our bodies warnings, we also have bodies that teach us how to enjoy life. This voice is also a whisper. We have to slow down to listen to this voice too.

I have once again recommitted myself to trying to live more consciously. To enjoying the little moments in life like eating a meal, snuggling with loved ones, a great sunset, meaningful work and many other moments that do so much to feed the soul.

A few weekends we started tearing up two indoor planters in our new kitchen/dining room. We carried out about 20 5-gallon buckets of dirt out of just the first one. We cut down some dying trees and it was pretty hard work. But we did it together as a family and I think for all of us it was really satisfying to work towards making our new home a place we'll love and enjoy.

We were hungry after many hours of work and when we got dinner at 9 p.m. it tasted so good and we were very much in the moment of loving a good meal. The next night we had dinner with extended family and then stopped by the new house again. We planned to stop by to make a quick list of projects for the week, but The Bug started sweeping the large flagstone patio on the backyard and pretty soon all three of us were out. We worked until after dark cleaning up the many piles of pine needles, leaves and dirt that had accumulated after a many months without any attention.

The view over the valley was so gorgeous and the sunset was stunning as usual. I realized that working on the new house is perhaps the best life therapy. Working near each other is relaxing and enjoyable. Being outside in the mountain air, even with a few mosquitoes, is refreshing. Knowing that we are investing in something all together is bonding. Being quiet and performing physical labor is an opportunity for the mind to unwind and clear itself.

The following Monday, my lunch of leftovers from the weekend tasted so fantastic. The fact that I was having pleasure in eating was a good sign to me. I find as a mom and wife, especially when you are cooking and trying to get a meal on the table, it's very easy to lose pleasure and enjoyment in meals. They become chores and a list of extended tasks that doesn't end until the dishwasher is turned on that night before bed. It's a challenge to sit down and truly enjoy a meal. So enjoying my meals more is a good sign that I am living more in the moment and more conscious of my body speaking to me.

I find myself stopping to drink in life a little more the past few days. I hope that spirit carries with us into this new home and new life here. I know it's my job to make sure that happens for myself and the to extend that out beyond myself. I'm going to try to have more conversations about living in the moment with my family and do more to point out those special moments we should stop and appreciate. Feeling more present in the moment is the best feeling of all. Regret haunts the past and worry tarnishes the future. But in the present moment all is well and we can do it.

14 September 2015

Heights House 1: Closing On The House

A few weeks ago, while I jetted off to a conference in Portland, The Man was in the process of closing on our house. I took care of all the signing stuff before I left town and then as my plane was landing back home, he was at the actual signing and picking up keys and garage door openers.

That afternoon I met him and our realtor (who was fabulous, by the way, super on the ball right to the end) at the house and we just did a little walk through and talked about projects we needed contractors for. It was a great day.

Since then we have been toiling away on projects and not in a very organized fashion yet. I think we just work on what we have energy for. So far we've prepped the garage for epoxy floor covering, cut down indoor trees and dug out the dirt from two large indoor planters that seem to have been all the rage in the late 70s and 80s in these parts. We have removed nails from walls all over the house and painted The Bug's bedroom. We bought flooring for The Man's office, heavy duty cleaned the ceiling and floors in the living room and this weekend I started pulling out all the 30-year-old contact paper from the kitchen drawers and cupboards.

The Man has done a lot of work on the yard, cutting down two dead trees, trimming three other large trees and has the pool up and running. Last night I watered flower beds that have been suffering from a lack of water. We need to get the crazy, bizarre sprinkler systems figured out.

We also got the laundry room up and running so that I can do wash there while we are there working. We're still living in a little townhouse until we are ready to move into the new house. There's no additional costs to having both places so it's nice we don't have to rush.

We do have a plan, it's just that we need busy contractors to be available to get our two big projects done. We have met with two contractors to walk through the house and get some rough estimages on costs. Right now our top goals are these three:

1) Office Space For Me -- goal is to turn the attic storage area into a workable office/craft & art room for me -- which is the biggest expense on the docket which isn't a very expensive project actually although it's still up in the air depending on raising the ceiling just a little bit and there are some logistics to figure out,

2) Planter Removal -- we need to remove the two large planter wells in the kitchen & dining area and replace the brick flooring -- again we're dealing with some weird logistics here and need to work with a contractor for this crazy project. But we did shovel out many buckets of dirt to get them cleaned out. A smelly, dirty job.

3) Replace Tile Kitchen Counter Tops --  we aren't sure what we want to do with these yet, we're a little all over the board on what we want to spend and what type of countertop surface we want -- more to come. One of the big issues is not spending a lot to replace these when we can see from the aging counter tops that we are going to be into a full kitchen cabinet redo in the years ahead. So don't want to spend a ton on new counter tops on top of cupboards that will need replacing.

Hopefully we'll get a tightened down bid on these projects soon and get moving on those items. Everything else will be a work-as-we-go list of items that should keep us busy well into our 60s...haha.

But it sure has been fun to move our dreams ahead, learn to work together and get into a rhythm with this new house. I'm glad we didn't move right in because it's given us a chance to take our time and think things through and just get adjusted to moving into someone else's house and having it feel like out own. It's a little discouraging sometimes when we look at all the "deferred maintenance" but we'll get there. It's already feeling like a nice place to be and we can't wait to get our furniture in, spend our first night there and invite friends over for a meal. It's been so long since we've been able to do that.

The holidays aren't too far off and I humorously wondered if I should just decorate the house for Christmas rather than decorate it for regular days and a few weeks later redo it again. I will definitely be keeping the holiday decorations close when we unpack everything!

Thanks for visiting. Hope you are well! More to come soon...

05 August 2015

SHINE: Fit It In Fitness

With a schedule that is getting busier and busier, I am finding lots of fun ways to work in some exercise. Workout bands are definitely part of that. I have two different bands hooked to the footbed of the bed and a yoga mat on the floor there.. Across the room I have dumbbells and a yoga ball.

The Man bought me two workout bands for my office and I bought an extra yoga mat to take there too. I joined the gym in our office building so if I decide to do the yoga class there I have everything I need at work. I'm keeping workout clothes and shoes in the car so if I have a chance to hit the gym anytime I have what I need there.

I bought a real gym bag that will carry a yoga mat, shoes, clothes and even has an insulated drink holder in the side. I will tell you that not having cable, I find I'm spending much longer than expected on the treadmills at the gym because I can watch HGTV on and on and one. If a new show starts I have to keep going until I see the reveal. HGTV is having a great impact on the appearance of my tush. Haha.

Going to the gym away from Los Angeles is much easier. Less crowded, quicker in and out, shorter drive, easier traffic. I had hit the gym branch near home or in the building at the office. Just having more open space and less of a crowd in the gym makes the entire experience so much more pleasant.

Living in the foothills now it takes only walking out the door to take a hike. We're looking at a house with a nice pool in the backyard and even though we didn't want a pool, we found half the houses here seem to have pools. We have looked at a lot of houses with pools because of the house and in spite of the pools. But we've changed our tune a bit and now I'm getting excited about the possibility to doing pool workouts in my own backyard if things work out as we hope. I have pinned a ton of pool workouts on one of my Pinterest boards.

One of the reasons we moved was to have a calmer lifestyle and being able to fit in workouts that work for me was definitely one of the lifestyle changes we wanted leaving the big city. I got here, got settled in the new job, got to know the new neighborhood, and now I'm really excited to be finding my way to a more active, healthy lifestyle, even though I'm working a lot of hours every week. Finding ways to help my body feel energetic and healthy is definitely a vital part of being able to SHINE - and it is my year to shine -- my mantra/goal for 2015.

Are you finding new ways of working out that you are really enjoying right now? Anything you've just found that's changing how you feel about your body? What are you doing that's helping you shine?

Sending happy wishes.

03 August 2015

Good Deals On Great Face Care Products

When I moved a few months ago, my skin went through a bit of a crisis, transitioning from a very warm, humid, coastal climate to a dry, high desert environment. Even though I tried to drink massive amounts of water to help my body adapt, that definitely was not enough.

I was putting lotion on my legs five or six times a day and my skin would really hurt by the end of the day because it was so dry. I felt like my facial skin aged ten years over a few weeks. It was wrinkly and sallow looking. When I would go back to California my skin would look peachy, dewy and bright.

Boy was that discouraging as I was trying to get settled in my our new environment, work and home. Buying high quality skin moisturizing products started getting expensive very quickly when I was using them multiple times a day.

Within my first few months I came upon some great resources that helped turned my dry skin to shiny, dewy and bright. I have to note that part of the change was my body just adjusting to the new climate. I still get noticeably thirsty much more than I did in California and my skin is still drier, but I have definitely adapted some.

Here is my happy, secret resource for some of the best skin care products around. TJMaxx and Marshalls carry some of the best skin care products on the market in their body care departments. I have been trying a variety of products and I can usually pick them up for between $5-10! Such great deals. There is a wide range of products there and they can get expensive but I'm talking about paying $50-ish for products that retail for well over $100.

It's really important to read the labels. I look for products with hyluronic acid, Here's some info on why it's good for you. I also like to look for products with collagen. I like to have an eye cream, age defying product and a good nightime moisturizer. I have also tried a skin brightener which definitely does give morning skin a little pick-me-up.

Having great looking skin feels like a constantly moving target to me. Weather and seasonal changes will affect it. Hormonal shifts will affect it throughout the month. Stress will have an impact. But I love having a variety of products, that are very affordable to keep on hand, to care for my skin in the way it needs each day.

Layering products is the secret solution for me to maintain healthy looking skin. For the first few weeks I layered all my products and it helped get things stabilized. As my skin adapted my mixed and matched what I felt I needed each day. With summer, and sweating more I lightened up on product and tried more to keep my skin clean so that bacteria from the sweat didn't cause breakouts.

I feel like I've taken years off my skin the past couple of months and I've done it in a way that is not breaking the bank. I buy a few of one product if I find one that I like, when I see them in stock. Of course the merchandise at TJMaxx and Marshalls is always changing so you can't always guarantee you'll keep finding a product you like. But that hasn't been a problem for me, it's pretty easy to find something similar.

This is also a great way to experiment to find something you want to commit to long-term without spending a fortune. Then you can look for it in other retail environments or online if it becomes no longer available at these two stores. I'm happy my skin is looking better and that I'm feeling fresher and younger looking in my skin. Here are a few other posts that are all about having healthy, young-looking skin.

Humidity For Sleep, Breathing And Beauty
Homemade Eye Cream
My Dry Skin Remedy (Don't use petroleum products)
Have A Mini-Spa Day
Frownies Facial Pads (Old Hollywood's wrinkle reducing secret)
Sleep: The Miracle Cure

Sending you happiest of wishes!

22 July 2015

Is My Camera Lens Here?

You will laugh at me. It's 1:05 AM and I just ran outside in my pjs to see if I had a package on the front porch waiting for me. Darn it, it's not there. Maybe tomorrow. But I thought it was the perfect time to share with you what I'm waiting for.

image via amazon

I never did quite figure out what I wanted for my birthday. I always pick one thing I really want and buy it for myself for my birthday. Recently I mentioned to some people that I buy myself a birthday present and much to my surprise one of the folks was shocked that I would buy myself my own birthday present. Who better to buy myself the perfect gift than me? I always use my birthday and Christmas as a time to get something that I have needed and wanted.

So while I've been waiting and stewing, waiting out the end of our house hunt, I was looking at photos I have been taking of the houses we've looked at. It's practically impossible to get anything more than small glances or far away shots with a regular old basic DSLR lens or the top of the line iPhone. As The Man and I continue to talk about how we want to decorate our new home (when that happens) I have known from the start that it is going to be a fixer upper situation.

It struck me like lightening that there was no way we would ever truly capture the excitement and progress of creating a new home in photos without the right camera lens. So i jumped right on the internet and started doing my research and within just a few minutes, like five max, I came across a bunch of great referrals for the Canon EF-S 10-18mm lens that would be just perfect for my Canon camera. The recommendations repeatedly said this was the perfect camera for anyone who needs ot take real estate photos. Perfection.

The recommendations all said while you could go with the Canon EF-S 10-22 which has a fantastic reputation as a great wide angle lens, the newer 10-18 was about half the price and could do just about anything one needed. SOLD!

I ordered it immediately and it should be arriving any minute now via Amazon Prime. I am so excited because now we'll be able to document a fantastic journey for our family and what will be one of the most exciting art projects of our life. Such a worthwhile investment.

I am seriously so excited to get this camera lens and hoping in the next few days we have more information on where our house hunt will end.

PS: A little house hunt update. Well, it's with mixed emotions that I share that we've already seen a bit of the light about the house we lost out on a few weeks ago. Gosh it's already been six weeks I think. Anyway, heard that there have been a lot of problems with the inspections on that house and that with quite a bit of "delayed maintenance" that house might've been a real disaster for us -- and it was already at the very top of what we were willing to spend. Plus it had absolutely no landscaping which would've been very costly and there were some potentially very disruptive dogs yard right behind the backyard.

So even though we're not totally ready to accept saying goodbye to the beautiful rooms we loved so much there, it does seem like maybe it was a blessing rather than a curse. I'm pretty convinced of that and The Man even said he thinks maybe someone upstairs was watching out for us. I'm thinking yes, even though that person upstairs knew it would absolutely and completely break out hearts. I like life lessons that unravel to explain themselves in short order!

I happened by the house last night and was SO sad to see that it seems the new owners have taken down the beautiful vintage 70s light fixture that was such a part of the charm of the high ceiling front entryway. Disastrous. I thought I saw a soulless ceiling fan thrown up in the space. The horror.

I have more to share with you about that house and my opportunity to revisit it recently  -- and even take a part of it for us to keep. It was a pretty intense experience. Thanks for popping by. Have so much to share with you. Lists of blog posts I need to write up all over the place. -- And I'm so excited that I will have a new lens soon to be able to share with you a much broader view of all that's going on in the kalanicut world. Yay!

20 July 2015

The Flood And Laundromat Adventures

Early last week I casually threw a load of wash in our laundry room which is in a closet in one of the  bathrooms. Then I went about some other activities in the house. Later is seemed weird that I thought I heard running water in the laundry room/bathroom. When I walked into there was in fact water running out of the washer all over the floor.

I immediately turned off the front loader washer but it was a little late as the tub was full and water was pouring out the front door. I pressed on the door wondering if it might just not be shut all the way. This unlatched the door, the door flew open and all the water in the washer began rushing all over the floor while clothes spilled out the door.

Panicked I began shoving clothes in as quickly as possible and slammed the door shut. It continued to leak water out the front and now the entire bathroom was flooded with water. What a mess. I began grabbing towels to throw down and then wringing them out in the shower as fast as I could. I figured there must be a shop vac in the garage somewhere at this house so I ran to the garage and found one under some boxes on one side. Grabbed it, ran in and started vacuuming. After a couple of minutes I looked back and realized that water had been spraying out of a vent on the back and now the sink cupboards were soaked with water too. Great. I could hear myself breathing as if I was running a race. My anxiety levels rose and shoulders got sore from repeatedly wringing out full size bath towels for a good hour or more and continuing to try to minimize the damage to the tile and floors.

After vacuuming most of the water off the floor while holding a towel over the spewing exhaust hole in the back, I then mopped everything up again with another pile of dry towels, I was soaked from the ankles down with laundry water and everywhere else from sweat. My stress levels began to go down and I decided to try to drain the water out of the washer by turning it back on and putting it on the final cycle of the washer which should drain and spin all the water out. That process took a little while so I went and collapsed in a chair in the living room for a few minutes. At the same time I made a few calls to local friends and family who might be able to advise me about what to do. Of course no one was available.

Once that washer stopped I gave it a few extra minutes and then went in and opened the door to the washer. A washer full of water gushed out again all over me and the floors while I scrambled again to get all the clothes back in the washer and slam the door shut. Then I started the clean up process all over again.

I grabbed three fans from around the house and positioned them in every direction in the bathroom after I had vacuumed and mopped up all the water again. Then I began the process of wringing out all the towels and took all the wet stuff to the back patio to hang up to dry. Of course just about that time it began to rain so I had to wait a couple of hours until the rain had passed to get things out on the line.

Exhausted now I sat in the living room and talked to my family who were all at my parents house for a couple of hours. At about bedtime I had the thought that perhaps the flood has leaked under through the wall and into the bedroom next door. Panicked again I ran in and pulled the bed from the wall to find water on the floor, hardwood floors wet and storage under the bed wet.

I ran to grab more towels and try to save the hardwoods which would be the most disastrous damage of all. Yikes. Agh. I left the fans running for the next couple of days and it looks like the hardwood will be okay although under the bed against the wall is a little messed up.

The washer continued to leak small amounts of water for the next two days. So I kept a towel at the base, which I wrung out frequently. I couldn't get a repairman to come until Wednesday. He pulled the door right open when he walked in the room and I cringed fearing a wall of water would pour out but the water had drained out for the most part. I got my clothes out and hung them out to dry -- so that I could take them to the laundromat to get the finally cleaned.

The repairman's very quick evaluation was that the washer was dead. Just for laughs he looked up the cost of repairing a 15-ish year old washer. The repairs would be $1800. The cost of a new top of the line washing machine? About $1200. What a crack up. We won't get the top of the line washer but I'm sure we can get something for less than that. So the dead washing is just here waiting to be replaced.

Saturday I took a huge mountain of laundry to the laundromat. Half of that was dirty towels from the disaster zone. It was a pretty quick process and boy was it nice to have clean clothes. But I still don't have a washer so I may be headed to the laundromat again sometime soon. It's amazing how you take things for granted like a functioning washing machine.

So that has been my big adventure of late. I'll have a few more posts coming up soon. So much to share with you. Hope all you dear reader friends are doing well!

07 July 2015

Eventful July Days On The Househunt

Hope you are enjoying this patriotic month of July. When I lived in Utah I always liked that the whole month of July was patriotic with both July 4th and Pioneer Day coming in the month. We could sing patriotic songs all month and leave up all the decorations!

Now that it is July, it's a great time to give you an update on what we're up to. I've been keeping things somewhat under wraps the past few months but now I think I can fill in a few details. Last December I had the great surprise to have the opportunity to take a fantastic job in a new state. Since then things have been moving fast at times and a little slow at other times.

I only had about three weeks from job accepting to starting and it was over the holidays. Of course this was the year that both our families decided to visit us in California over the Christmas-New Year break. This meant it was a slow, long move. I spent the first month going back and forth from New Mexico to California packing over the weekends. Boy am I so glad that time is over. It was exhausting and I was sick much of the time as well as adjusting to a completely different altitude and climate.

The Man and the kiddo stayed behind and are still in the processing of completing things there so they can get here. I've been flying back and forth at least 2-3 weekends each month along with a decent amount of business travel and other adventures. I love my new job. It is busier than I had hoped but the reality is that I work in marketing and marketers always work long hours. It's been so at every job I've ever worked.

But I have a phenomenal boss who continually reminds us the work will be there tomorrow and encourages us to go home at the regular time. Because I've been here in NM alone, I've had the luxury of working longer hours, plus there was no one to go home to anyway. It gave me some time to quickly get up to speed on a lot of things and get settled in.

We've been house hunting since December. I can't tell you how many hours I've spent on Zillow and Realtor.com. I could start a career in Real Estate except that I want nothing to do with all the legalities, contracts and negotiating. I have known every house in our price range in three zip codes for several months now. We're on our third house offer attempt and in the process of negotiating. Both of the previous failures have been heartbreaking and thus I am enjoying feeling a little numb about this current negotiation, unwilling to get too emotionally involved in it.

The first house we liked was quite small, but had a sweet and private backyard. It also had a lot of wear and tear and needed to be totally rewired. But the price was ridiculously cheap. The day we decided to put an offer in it sold. Sadness. About the same time the house we lost that I wrote about a couple of weeks ago came on the market and even though it was about 100,000 over what we wanted to pay, I started watching it and when it came down 60,000 we made and offer. You can read the rest here.

Once again the disappointment kept us from looking at anything new for a month. I kept watching things online and kept a short list of possibilities until we were ready to look again. The houses in the area of town we would like to live are very dated and tend to be very similar. So finding something unique, with decent size rooms and higher ceilings has been tricky. This past weekend we entered the hunt once again, looked at several  properties I'd been keeping on my list and then made an offer on the one we were most interested in.

We were very pleasantly surprised by one house we looked at which doesn't happen too often but the price and location weren't quite what we wanted. So now we're looking at a house that is quite a fixer upper but we realized it fits most of our major criteria and no house has come close to that yet. So we'll see how it goes, what we can negotiate and how things will all shake out in the end. Not holding my breath.

On the lighter side, we've had some interesting husband-wife conversations about design styles and I happen to be married to a real creative. So we will have to come to some agreement about every detail of the home. Some days I think we're totally in sync and other days I get a little comically worried. Should be a big adventure. Right now the words modern, clean and simple keep coming into play and I sure hope we end up going that way.

At some point we'll have to have a sale and sell off some stuff as we really combine household belongings for the first time. It will be fun to shop our stuff once we get it all together and it will feel good to let some things go. I have bought a few things that I'd like to take to the new house including two big, rectangle white planters, pillows, a small lamp and recently I bought a pretty wood tray.

In the meantime, I am poking around the internet looking for great deals on kitchen appliances, particularly used professional stuff. It's amazing what's out there. I keep thinking back to an episode of Property Brothers where this young couple found an entire kitchen's worth of professional grade, stainless steel appliances for $1500 online from a seller who was unable to use them after purchasing them. Amazing.

I'm hoping if we need to we can source out some good deals on stuff like that in SoCal before we bring out the final load of stuff. Then we could just throw anything we find into the moving truck with our other stuff. From my short hunt so far, it seems LA is ripe with great used and clearance appliances for the picking.

Right now I couldn't be more grateful that I have a sister who is a structural engineer and a dad who is a roofing contractor. There is a big conversation going on right now about this house roof, so I've already been on the phone with my dad three times yesterday. He's been a fantastic resource!

His expertise has really educated me further on what we're talking about for the roof for this house. I've learned a ton today! I already knew more than the average bear about roofing after growing up working with my dad and just hearing lots of roofing conversations, but today I took my knowledge to a new level. The sellers won't know what hit them when I start asking more questions (in a polite, gracious way of course, haha).

It will be interesting to see what else comes of the house buying education we are experiencing. Never a dull moment. You never know what the next phone call will bring. We'll try to enjoy this little roller coaster and hope we're happily settled soon. School starts in about 5 weeks.

I plan to be here a little more often in coming days. Thanks for visiting. Miss spending time every day here with you friends.

19 June 2015

Happy Father's Day Gift

I have really gained a passion over the past few years to give gifts that will truly be cherished and used by the receiver. I had the idea of money being wasted or receivers holding on to things they don't really want. Plus isn't it wonderful to truly see delight in a recipient's eyes when you give them a gift they love. So for Father's Day this year I wanted to come up with something that was just right.

I wasn't at all sure what to get The Man. Especially since we're in two different places geographically. I didn't really want to take a gift to him that he would have to pack and ship right back here in a few weeks. He doesn't really need anything where he is out right now but some good home cooked meals which I try to whip up when I'm there.

Suddenly last weekend it struck me that I should get him a jasmine plant. He loves the scent of jasmine and this would be a gift he would be able to enjoy for years to come. So I headed to Lowe's and found a great bush variety jasmine plant. Then I started looking for a planter to put it in. I feel like finding planters I like is always challenging. They're either too expensive or too weirdly colorful or just not the right size or shape.

So when I saw this planter I decided it exactly hit the mark and better yet it was only $15. In case you like it too, it comes in lots of different colors and a couple of different sides. It goes great with a couple of other planters I bought last week that I will share with you soon. Out the door I went with my jasmine plant and planter and the perfect gift. I stopped next door at Target and picked up a couple of great cards for both my dad and husband.

It was fun to take some time after work Tuesday night to re-pot the new jasmine and get it all ready to go. Then the plant and I had a little photo shoot. Happily with my new phone, photos on the move are a snap and are of fantastic quality. The Man will get a nice photo of his gift in his card and he'll be able to enjoy it for years to come as soon as he gets here. Hope those of you celebrating Father's Day this weekend have a wonderful time with your loved ones.

17 June 2015

Now This Is What Summer Should To Be Like

As much as I loved living in coastal California, I have to say that I always missed having real summers, like I grew up with. Summer in SoCal is often cool and overcast and you would never leave for the evening in June and July without a sweater, sweatshirt or sometimes even a coat. That means 4th of July fireworks with a coat on.  It does eventually get hot in August, September and October but it always seemed a little sad not to be enjoying summer during the actual summer season. So experiencing a real, Intermountain West summer this year if filling me with glee!

The days are hot and dry, which means you need a lot of lotion and moisturizer, but your hair looks fantastic all the time and keeps it's style all day. No frizzies here! And you might even get a second day out of a blowout if you don't sleep on it too hard. It's fun to get warm enough to really enjoy an icy cold beverage or a shave ice without having to wear a jacket or sweater.

 I like the warm evenings with no need for a sweater and all the outdoor patio dining spots.I love coming home from work to a real nightfall rather than just clouds rolling in and obscuring the sun at night. We have the most amazing sunsets everyday here. Every afternoon big billowy clouds roll in from the west desert and make for the most amazing sunsets. With a view so big it's also amazing to enjoy lighting and thunderstorms too. I love watching the lightning light up the valley and then hearing the thunder roll through the skies.

The past two times it has rained the air has been filled with a smell of summer rain that is just intoxicating. Such an unique scent and one I have missed. In the evenings, wonderful, cool breezes come across the valley on one side of the house and on the other cool mountain breezes come down the hills. In the evenings it is so pleasurable to sit and enjoy the fresh cool air.

It's nice to have daylight after work. I cam home and got started on my patio container garden last night. I bought a couple of giant planters for some decorative outdoor plants that I will share with you soon.

It was so lovely to outside with so much nature around and be so close to the mountains.One morning I woke up and there was a big deer behind the back fence. Another morning there was a bobcat in the tree next door trying to get birds for breakfast. Every night there are little bunnies running around the neighborhood. As cute at they are, their presence will require having any garden covered with netting or cages. There are an amazing array of birds outside every morning.

It's very dark in this part of town after dark - a little scary at times but such a great place to look at stars! Plus looking down the hills there is a wonderful view of the city lights. It's quite a delightful spot to live. So grateful for this opportunity. Now if we can just find a house in this neighborhood. Fingers crossed. Prayers said.

How about these sunsets? I'm telling you they happen every night...every night. Such an amazing gift from Mother Nature! This summer stuff is making me feel a lot of happiness every night. I just want to make sure I enjoy every moment I can. Hopefully before the summer is over we'll have a pretty patio to entertain on and enjoy time with new friends and family.

images by kalanicut

13 June 2015

House Hunting: The Lost Dream House

When I saw this photo, it seemed to so perfectly capture what I've been feeling this past week. Oh we were so close to getting the house of our dreams this past week. This was a house we'd been watching closely for five months and it was ours for the taking when another significant price drop came. Through a crazy, fluke-ish set of circumstances we lost the house in the very last few hours of negotiations due to a competing offer that came in at the same time we made a very small counter-offer.

Talk about feeling like you want to hurl. We have just felt sick about it. Full of doubt and questioning not only of our decisions, but questioning having trusted our guts, which at this point seem to have done us wrong. In a greater sense feeling really let down that when it seemed to have all miraculously come together in ways we could never have imagined that felt so right and so hopeful, we lost it in an absolutely bizarre set of circumstances. This is a house that had only 3 previous offers in 6 months. We were the fourth and the fifth had to come in just at the same hour we were about to wrap up the deal.

This is a house I've been driving past almost daily. We have pondered and prayed over this house, we have meditated living in this house. I've said repeatedly to myself "if we don't get it, I am okay with it, as long as we did out best." Well, we absolutely did the best we could with the entire process and I am so not okay with the outcome.

This is that house that immediately spoke to all three of us, where we could see ourselves living and where we could completely imagine our life happening. And we were so close we were just waiting for final word and then it was gone. It was like the bottom fell out of hundreds of hours of work, weeks of watching, months of hoping there would be a miracle. And the miracles came and then the miraculous outcome did not.

Boy are we devastated and yet we don't have any choice but to lick our wounds and get up and keep marching. Marching towards what I have no idea. We have seen so little that we are really interested in and it's 99% impossible we will find something as absolutely unique as what we thought we were headed to.

I tried to climb back on the realtor.com pony later in the week but it just made me feel too sick. Instead I went back and looked at the not yet removed listing of the house we so badly wanted. Oh, what a heartbreak.

It's so easy to say to others, "Oh, it will be okay" and "Things always happen for a reason" or "Something better will come along" but man those words don't sit well in the depths of one's grief. I feel like life has been plenty tough on us the past few years, from war zones to car accidents and near fatal illness - and this just really scratches the surface. I think we've seen enough of the trials and tribulations situations.

I share all this frustration not for a pity party but with the realization that we all face these uber frustrating times and I'm assuming there will be a lesson in it. I'm praying to see the light, to feel the peace and to have the faith that this is just a bump in the road, but it can be difficult to keep hoping and to keep pressing forward. Right now I feel like I will never, ever get over losing that house. It was the perfect house in so many, many ways. I will confess to a lot of tears and a lot of questioning - and some anger at how this so miraculously DIDN:T happen. My little family too, is completely devastated and that has been a burden in itself trying succor their mourning while dealing my own anger and frustration.

So what does one do in the interim...in that moment when you realize you've just been kicked off a bucking bronco and open your eyes to find yourself covered in dust in a heap on the hard ground? Maybe you do just hurl. You stare, sulk, cry, kick, scream, weep and mourn until you get it all out of your system. After you spin the situation around and around and work yourself into a bit of a frenzy and hurl out every bit of offending anxiety until your system is again clean and you can start digesting life again.

We had one big disappointment with a house right at the beginning of the year and that took us a couple of months to get over. We had not been emotionally invested in any other house until this one and it too vanished into thin air.  I'm not sure how long the mourning process will be with this house. I think for each one of us the emotions and hopes and dreams were different so we'll all have to work through it in our own way. And so in the midst of the twirling and hurling, we have to find our way back on our feet and moving forward. I hope the process isn't too difficult. I hope our hearts and minds are captured by something new soon. Until then I'll steady myself on a handrail or wall somewhere until I feel ready to walk again.

I'd love to hear your home buying life lessons and gems of advice. I imagined this process would be much simpler, but it has not been that much fun. It's bee more of a long journey...one that continues on to an unknown destination. But I would love to hear that you landed where you were meant to or that you came to know the house you so thought you wanted turned out to not be the house at all. This tired girl is going to sleep this off for a while. Trying to remember to shine.

15 May 2015

Concrete Dipped Lamp from Habitat For Humanity ReSale Store

On my list of fantasy design activities for some time has been a visit to a Habitat For Humanity ReSale store. I never got there when I lived in LA but I didn't need stuff and it was a fairly good drive away. So when a new city came into the picture I took the opportunity to visit the Habitat store here on one of my first weekends here alone. That's where I found this great concrete dipped lamp. It guess it's not really dipped but that's the best way to describe the look.

When it was time to style it up I tried two distinctly differently looks and while I am pretty sure I am sold on the white one, the second option always excited me when I see it. Here's look one: white shade.

I like the simplicity of color with the added dimension of texture in the shade. I think this is my favorite look but there's one challenge and that is that the super white shade makes me want to paint the white on the concrete to a brighter, shinier white. And it just so happens that I do have a can of spray paint in just that shade. I'm torn between the worn look of the white paint and then part of me wants to clean and crisp it up.

Here's look two, totally ikat.

My big mistake with this shade was not buying two of them when I had a chance. I had the chance to do that, while they were on clearance and I didn't do it. Based on responses from the family I think two of these would've given me a lot of options for any room in the house on two matching lamps.. But I have the one and I do love it. So I'll enjoy what I've got.

So do you have a favorite?Would you paint it or leave it's lovely imperfections? Make a vote in the comments. Ah, I just checked the Target website and guess what, they have more of those ikat lamp shades on clearance....hmmm. This presents a dilemma.

image by kalanicut

13 May 2015

Decorating My Office Part Four: Great Finds

Things are starting to come together with decorating my new office, but I will admit it has been a long project of hits and misses. I guess it makes sense that it will take some trial and error to get it all together a design project in a way that feels right.

I'm glad I've been taking my time on this project because it's amazing how it keeps coming together in better ways than I imagined, bit by bit. I'm definitely one who can't get set up an entire room in a day.  You'll remember the beautiful pillows I ordered. Here's a quick update on them.

images via Etsy

These gorgeous pillows were something I hunted for a good while for. I wanted to find some Southwest-inspired textiles to bring onto the scene. I found them on Etsy at the shop Turkish Kilim Rug. I purchased them anticipating that if they were going to be shipped form Turkey, it would take a couple of weeks. They arrived two days after they were shipped from Turkey. Amazing, crazy fast.

These have been sitting in my room at home since I got them needing inserts. I made a goal to get them ordered finally this week. I have found quite a few good deals on down pillow inserts online but haven't pulled the trigger yet. I want to find something very soft and smushy so these pillows don't feel rock hard. With the heaviness of the rug fabric on these they could get very hard and stiff easily. Hopefully a good soft insert will keep them pliable and lovely.

I ordered these before I was sure what I would do to cover the seat of the settee, but last week I happened to make a very fortuitous stop at HomeGoods and founds a couple of items for my office that totally blew my mind, one of which is the perfect seat cover. I will share those soon in a round up once I get some photos.

There are some other great things going on. This is a rather blurry before shot. After taking down the cork squares off the wall there was some damage because they had been attached with foam tape. They were falling down and falling apart but the foam tape ripped up the paint on the wall despite how careful I tried to be.

I was lucky enough to get a beautifully repaired wall last week and I was quite surprised. I imagined I would gladly cover the spots if I could get some paint. When I inquired about the paint for patching and then left for a meeting, I came back to see the job already in motion. What a treat. It is amazing how much better it looks now - and a bonus was that the rest of the room got a little touching up too.

The bookcase has been organized and rearranged. Here's a before of the bookcase including a comical collection of old logo-ed shirt, art, and piles of potentially needed paper. You can also see a vinyl orchid wall decoration and a couple of miscellaneous vases.

I will share the bookcase update soon. All the papers and binders are better organized. Here's a quick look at the top of the bookcase now after considerable picking off of tiny bits of vinyl. That's a stack of California beach rocks below the shelf. Apologies for the terrible lighting and blurriness. I will take my good camera into the office next week for more photos.

As of now, the bookcase and desk remain in their original positions. The settee and table have been moved to the left side of the desk tucked at an angle in the corner and are looking quite nice. For now along the wall where the cork boards were is the work table and two chairs.

Another great find I'll share soon is a little project with a cast-iron horse. When I found him he was apple green. Not very attractive but he is in the process of becoming a pretty white that will go with the other white accents throughout my office. I'm still not sure where is is going to go, but I'll figure that out. Maybe on the coffee table.

I know there are a few things in storage that I can use in my office as well, but unfortunately I can't get access to most of that stuff until we move it into a house. Rats. Despite the fact that I've talked about so many different items for my office, it is still pretty bare and simple/ There are several surfaces that need a little styling.

I will tell you about what I'm going to do along the long wall where the cork board squares were next. I had several ideas then I had a little idea and then found something even better. Funny how that happens all the time.

11 May 2015

Summer Sandals: Birkenstock Mayari

image via Zappos

I've been on the hunt for a pair of high quality flip flops for some time now. After rejecting multiple $50-60 flip flop options, I happened to come across a pair of Birkenstock Mayari in my size at a local shoe store. I decided pretty quickly that this was the way to go and only about $30 more than those expensive rubber flip flops.

My last pair of Birks lasted me about 15 years and pretty much finally fell apart this winter when I wore them through many days of packing to move. I have always found that after a long hard day, an hour in a pair of Birks puts tired feet and body back into their proper alignment and makes such a incredible difference in one's energy.

I was happy to kill two birds with one stone on this purchase and I am thinking about picking up another pair of Birkenstocks in another style for the summer. These are definitely a fantastic choice  and I've been wearing them with maxi skirts, midi skirts, yoga pants, jeans and for Casual Friday at the office. Plus they're slim and great to tuck into the bag to swap in and out of high heels when one needs to hustle from a hotel to a convention center.

I love that Birkenstock sandals are as cool as ever and I'm so glad I didn't buy a pair of flip flops that I really didn't like in the first place. These cost about the same as a pair of those very expensive flip flops that start with "Olu" and end with "kai". I bought two pairs of those a few summers ago and after a little wear the leather soles with stiching were so slipper and the stitching was so painful on the feet. I need to stick with what I know works.

If you've never owned a pair of Birkenstocks before, know they are a little bit stiff at first until your feet and the shoe get to know each other a bit. But it doesn't take long until they fit like a glove. If you're interested in a pair, shop the internet and look for sale prices. You can often find great deals on a variety of strap materials and color compositions. Find something you like and love them.

I don't think this pair will last me 15 years, because they are going to get a lot of wear. But I know I won't be chucking them at the end of the summer or mid-way through the summer like I so often do with cheap and expensive flip flops. Thanks Birkenstock for your generations of high quality footwear.

08 May 2015

Decorating My Office: Part Two - Settee Pillows

Editors Note: Just realized I never posted this second update in mid-March on my office decor project. So I'm posting it now and I will very quickly have another update, because things, happily, have been happening.

I mentioned in Decorating My Office: Part One that my next project would be upstyling the little settee in my office. (You can get a peek at the settee here.) It needed a little help. It's faux leather and with all the detailing across the top it doesn't look too bad. But the seat is very plastic-y looking with big flat panels of the faux-ness. So for now I've found a pretty little fuschsia and creamy white diamond stamped rug that covers the seat up nicely.
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It really gave the setee new life, but it doesn't cover it quite enough to where I can tuck it in and not have it slip-sliding around all the time. I'd love it if it was big enough that it could be wrapped around the seat and secured firmly. It's just a few inches too short for that, darn it.

Before I found the little rug, I bought two pillows that I thought would accent the sofa nicely. Uellow with a beaded Southwest inspired diamond pattern across the fronts. But they were just about an inch two big for both of the oblong pillows to fit and using just one didn't look right either. So those two pillows migrated over to the two chairs that go with the round table on the other side of the room - and soon thereafter headed back to the store to be returned.

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After a trip to a couple of thrift stores and Habitat for Humanity ReSale store here, I'm thinking strongly about finding two chairs that I can get reupholstered to replace the standard office chairs. We'll see how that venture goes in the coming weeks. I did find two that seemed perfect that were only about five dollars each, but I could see they would be too short for my table so I had to give up on that idea.

Anyway, I'm still thinking about how to cover that seat. In the meantime I started looking for pillows that might be great accent pieces for the office. My goal with the office was to go "Southwest/Modern" so I've been taking notes and mulling ideas for a while now. After having no luck finding any pillows that captured my Southwest/Modern vibe in stores locally I started searching on Pinterest and found a link to the Etsy Shop Turkish Kilim Rug.

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There I found a fantastic selection of pillows and rugs. Realizing this shop was actually in the country of Turkey, I was a little hesitant to even consider buying something from so far away. But then I started reading the reviews and it sounded quite reputable.

So, in the middle of the night, while watching QVC for entertainment purposes, home alone -- I bought five of them! I feared I was being caught up in a crazy middle of the night whim but part of me felt very sure these were my pillows and that they would set the color scheme for my office perfectly.

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These were a bit of a splurge, but happily the next morning I felt even more sure and every time I looked at photos of my purchases and I was even more certain that I had found what I was looking for. I bought two of the striped pillows to match, hoping that they'll be a grounding point for the other three non-matching pillows. We'll see how it goes when they get there. But I'm definitely happy that I was adventurous and took the chance to find something I really love. I'll report back when they arrive, which should be pretty soon.

Once they come in I'll have to update my seat cover for the settee. I'm not sure what I'll do just yet, but I know I'll find the right thing, once I have the pillows in place. Now I just need to get my art project done for the wall that is seen when you first walk into my office. Then I have to fix up the big wall in front of my desk. Fun stuff!

*As mentioned this post is now a bit outdated and a new update will be posted shortly. But I will say I still LOVE the pillows and am happy to have found, after a few tries, what I think is the final solution for the sofa that seems more perfect that I could've hoped. Lots of updates.

all images via Etsy Shop Turkish Kilim Rug
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