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Inspirational Jewelry, Gifts and Gab

Friday, December 11, 2009


In the next couple of weeks we are planning for so much - always looking ahead - Christmas, festivities, birthdays, traveling, gift exchanges, holiday parades, class cookie parties, the list goes on and on and on. However, I feel the need to wistfully look back at 2009 and be grateful. I am thankful for a healthy, happy, busy year.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Washing a Pottery Barn Cranberry Sectional Slipcover

I know this is not normally what I write about in my blog, but I thought this might be good information for some of you moms out there with the popular Pottery Barn Sectional. I love my Cranberry-colored sectional, but after three years, three kids and three dogs, it was looking dingy and faded.

I washed the slipcovers about one year ago, and the result was not great - a little faded. I was afraid to wash it again because I really love the deep red of the couch. I went online and looked for tips on washing the slipcover and found information on washing it with fabric dye. There were lots of ideas that wouldn’t work for me - soaking the covers in the bathtub was one tip. No thanks! I didn’t want a red tub. One idea was to use cranberry juice in the wash, but I didn’t think that would be a deep enough color. I also wasn’t sure if it was even a serious suggestion.

I decided to go for it and try dyeing the slipcover my own way. I figured it would either turn out great, or I would have to buy a new couch. Being an optimist, I really hoped for the first result. Thankfully, I was right. Here was my strategy for my top loading washing machine:
1. wash covers on gentle and remove them before spin cycle so they are very wet.
2. boil a pan of water and add dye to dissolve. I used Jacquard iDye in Crimson.
3. let washing machine fill with water and add dye. Let machine agitate for 30 seconds to mix in the dye.
4. add slipcovers to water.
5. Soak for at least 15 minutes and agitate every few minutes to keep the dye even.
6. after soaking, let machine drain and rinse.
7. restart cycle and add mild detergent. I used Ecos Laundry detergent from Costco.
8. dry gently on low heat until covers are just damp.
9. iron and put cushions on while still a little damp for a better fit.

Last tips: I washed the seat and back cushions at home (one or two at a time), but used the laundromat for the main slipcovers.

Good luck!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Time For Some Meditation

I know that meditating is beneficial. It reduces stress, strengthens the immune system, helps to control anxiety, and much more. It sounds so easy to do - relax, be quiet, focus on yourself...what could be simplier? However, meditation takes work. With all of the noise and business that surrounds us, it is actually difficult to shut it out and it is most challenging to quiet your thoughts. It seems like such a paradox to me.

I've found a website and podcast that has proven very useful in helping to quiet my thoughts and have a few minutes of meditation. The site is called mythoughtcoach.com. It is lead by Stin Hansen and, although there is a membership charge, many of the meditations are free. Some of the titles are: Anxiety, Health and Fitness, Pregnancy and Sleep. Give it a try.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

What To Do With Old Medicines

Wondering what to do with old medicines?

I recently organized my medicine cabinet and found lots and lots of expired prescriptions. I had read that flushing pills down the toilet was harmful to the waterways and our ecosystem, but I didn’t just want to throw them in the trash. Real Simple magazine had a great tip for safely getting rid of “the goods.” The magazine suggests mixing the pills with coffee grounds, cat litter or sawdust and throwing them out with the garbage. “This will keep them away from kids and pets and prevent harm to fish and other wildlife habitats. Apparently, the exception is highly addictive drugs, such as Percocet and OxyContin. For those, visit smartxdisposal.net.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

You Want It? Write It Down!

I was recently inspired to write down what I wanted for my life in my journal. However I didn't just write it as goals, I wrote it as if it were really happening at that present moment. It felt exhilirating.

I really believe that to get what you want, you have to know what you want. By writing my goals, as if they were happening, I was visualizing and feeling my future. It was as if I could hear the kids playing on the beach of our Hawaiian resort and actually feeling content to lay side by side with my husband soaking up the sun.

Its been several months since I wrote the "mental picture" in my journal, but I find myself re-reading my entry over and over. Each time I read it, I have a feeling of happiness and relaxation.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Blackberries by the Bay

A neighbor told me about a secret spot by the bay where blackberries are plentiful. She had just picked 5 lbs! I went yesterday, and although my bounty was not as plentiful, it was a beautiful day and very serene...until an 80 year old bald man nearly ran me over. He was on a big kind of skateboard/surfboard with a paddle that he used to push himself along MY peaceful walkway. After nearly squashing me (and my berries) he yelled at me and said if I got in his way again, he'd run right into me! He was so ridiculous, that I just laughed and yelled "thank you for your consideration."

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Summer Time

Why am I so busy? What happened to the lazy days of summer? Between work, finding childcare, soccer camp and swim lessons, I'm exhausted. Now I know why moms could not wait for school to start!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Tranquil Horses

Our neighbors brought over their horses to let them graze. It's a win-win situation. Their horses get fed and our grass gets mowed (the fertilizer is an added bonus). The fire department will be very happy that we will get it done in time.

The horses are beautiful and calming as they methodically take giant bites of the lush delicacy. I could watch them graze in the tall golden grass all day long.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Living In The Moment - On Vacation

I was recently given the extraordinary opportunity to spend a week in Paris with my oldest daughter. It was a true gift and a dream come true to share my favorite city with my daughter. We had an itinerary planned, left a lot of room for relaxing, walking and of course, eating. We luxuriously slept in every morning and began our day of sightseeing every day around 12:00. It was a joy not to be rushed. Seeing landmarks such as Notre Dame, the Eiffle Tower and the Louvre through my daughters eyes was inspirational. She was so excited to see works by Van Gough and Monet - artists she studied in school. I was extremely proud of her.

About three days into the vacation, it occurred to me that I had been enjoying and relishing every second of the vacation. I was living in the present moment without even having to concentrate on being centered. It felt so good! The last few years of my life has been so focused on my kids, work, money, home-ownership - thoughts and worries that swirl in my head constantly. Contemplating beautiful art, learning about history, spending time with people I love, and focusing on myself burst the haze I normally live in.

Now I've returned home and to reality. I'm back to my life filled with carpools, work and multi-tasking. I'm grasping to maintain my vacation mentality. Living in the present moment was such a relief, like gulping a breath of ocean air. I had forgotten how great it felt, but I'm happy that I'm still capable of it.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Time To Play

Often, I have to make a conscience decision to play with my kids. Ludicrous, but true. Cleaning the house, earning money, writing in my blog, reading a book, often take precedent over playing with my kids.

I have three kids and they always want to play with me. I'm so lucky! How can I forget to play? Playing is so much fun and liberating. My favorite thing to play is soccer. If we can't go outside, we shoot goals inside - right down our slippery hallway.

I also love the board game Sorry! I loved it as a child and would spend hours challenging my mom. Now, my daughter is a willing participant. You never know who will win!

Gotta go Play!

Save on Washing Machine Soap

My friend and colleague, Erika gave me a tip on washing clothes - Use Less Soap, or even None at All! I could not believe it would actually clean my family's dirty, smelly, often stained clothes, but it actually works. I started using just a quarter of what my detergent tells me to use. Guess what? The clothes are just as clean as they were when I used the recommended amount. Amazing! Erika told me that the amount of soap residue left on clothes from just the first wash, last for several washes. I'm saving money from using a lot less soap, plus it is a bonus for Mother Nature. Seriously, try it!

Monday, April 6, 2009


Today I…
  • Got three kids ready for school
  • Carpooled to elementary school
  • Dropped preschooler off
  • Worked at legal office for 3 hours
  • Picked up preschooler
  • Went to post office
  • Made lunch
  • Raked front yard
  • Planted flowers and watered
  • Swept walkway
  • Helped preschooler to ride bike
  • Wrote blog for friend
  • Online chat with husband
  • Found dog watcher for long weekend away
  • Greeted older kids after school
  • Chatted about their day
  • Contacted teacher on progress report
  • Watched “Oprah” on TV

Now I’m going to:

  • Fix chicken tacos for dinner
  • Help kids with homework
  • Help husband clean up kitchen
  • “Twilight” party with girlfriend (Yippeee!)
  • Lots of red wine
  • Go to Bed and be ready to do it all over again.
Whew! It's amazing all the things we do!!!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Frugal Fryer's Fabulous Finds

I love finding a good bargain. Have you shopped at VONS lately? There are some really great deals.
Cuties - $4.99 for a 5 lb. box
Apples - $1 for a pound
Avocados - $1 each
Capri Sun - $1.50
Extra Gum - buy one get one free

Google is offering tips on saving money at google.com/tipjar. It's a great site that lets users submit money-saving tips. Categories include family and kids, food, finance and shopping. Users can vote on their favorite tips. Here's one sample:
"Give a gift of a service instead of an item. For new parents, give an evening of babysitting as a gift. If you know pet owners, offer to take care of their pets when they travel. Offer up some lawn care as a gift to a new homeowner."

Happy Saving!!!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Martha Stewart Complex

The Martha Stewart Empire began the same year I had my first baby, (at least that's when I became aware of Martha Stewart and her beautiful, meticulous world). This was unfortunate for me because it nearly ruined my first few years as a new mommy. Why? It set an unachievable standard for women who thought we could do it all.

I went from working girl in San Francisco with a career as an Events Planner with up-to-date clothes and money to burn - to - a stay at home mom in the burbs COVERED in spit up and sweat and scraping by on one income. Ouch!

I searched for a way to gain control of my life again and found it one day at the grocery store checkout. There it was, a glossy magazine with photos of beautiful Swedish furniture, an article on "Cleaning Toilets 101", and a photo shoot of the quaint nanny's quarters of a famous publisher. "I can do this," I thought to myself. "I can be the best wife, mother, maid, volunteer, and chef ever!" I purchased the Martha Stewart Living Magazine and quickly sent in my $19 check for a year's subscription. Big mistake.

I quickly developed a bad case of the Martha Stewart Complex and I was exhausted, unhappy, chubby, and failing miserably at being perfect. The pressure was immense, the fun was infinitesimal. My lemon meringue pie was lumpy, my husband's shirts looked like they were ironed by a puppy, my knitted cap was crooked, and I could never make a hospital corner adequately. Worse of all, the fun and excitement had evaporated from life, just like the glaze l'orange sauce that I attempted to pour over my Poulet Parfait.

I had a beautiful daughter who did not care if her toys were arranged by theme, or her blanket was made of the finest cashmere. She wanted to explore, get dirty, look at books, play Polly Pockets and most of all, be with her mom and dad. It was time to get rid of Menacing Martha and have some fun again!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

PMS Rants and Raves

How many over-reacting emotions, crazy thoughts, and foolish actions can be attributed to PMS? When is it PMS and when is it just a poor personality trait? Am I PMS-ing, or am I just a crappy person? These are the questions I find myself asking at this moment.

Today, my emotions have run the gamut from super sensitive to passive aggressive. I've felt exhausted, irritated and impatient. My brain is running at a snails pace; making any thinking difficult. Last week I felt fit and healthy, exuberant even. Today I'm fat with bad skin.

I want to whine. In fact, I was going to start this blog complaining about making dinner tonight. I mean really...cook dinner every night?! I didn't sign up for this. It's really hard thinking about what to make for dinner EVERY single night. I want someone to make dinner for ME. I don't want to think about what's in the freezer or cupboard, or what I need to pick up at the grocery store. Today, the task of figuring out what to have for dinner seems impossible. Unfortunately, I have 3 children looking at me with big blue eyes and asking "what's for dinner?" Actually chocolate chip pancakes sound really good.

My question is...when do you know that you are just being bitchy versus your hormones throwing a rave in your body? Web MD says this: "Common symptoms of PMS include:

Breast tenderness
Weight gain
Trouble concentrating
Food cravings/overeating
Mood swings and/or depression

Yes, Yes and Yes. Thank you.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

It's Time to Recycle

My family has always recycled by using the barrels given to us by our waste management company. We never received any money back, but felt good about recycling. When my husband and I were newlyweds, we lived in San Francisco. One morning a week, we were awakened by the locals going through the neighbors recycling bins to recover any precious recycling items. They were up at 4 a.m. rummaging around and earning money. Pretty clever.

Now, my children have decided that they want to earn money by taking our recycling to the local plant. It may be a reality check for them to see how much is needed to earn even $1, but I think it will be a good experience for them. They can take care of the planet and earn a little money for the Dollar Store (to buy more junk!)

I recently came across an article from Real Simple Magazine. They had some great tips for recycling that I wanted to share:

Aerosol Cans: These can usually be recycled with other cans, as long as you pull off the plastic cap and empty the canister completely.

Crayons: Send them to the National Crayon Recycle Program (www. crazycrayons.com), which melts down crayons and reforms them into new ones.

Crocs: The manufacturer recycles used Crocs into new shoes and donates them to underprivileged families.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Frugal Fryer Fabulous Finds

Okay, so I'm turning 40, and YES, I DYE MY HAIR! Now that I got that out of the way, I want to tell everyone about a great product. It is Clairol's Nice 'N Easy Root Touch Up. It works great in between coloring hair - even if you have highlights. I don't know how they do it, but in just 10 - 15 minutes grays and roots are blended away. It's really amazing and for only $5 - $8 it is a great way to save.

A New Year, A New Decade

I like giving a slogan to each year. Naming a year gives me something to aim for. I must of said "2008 is going to be great" at least 200 times last year. I remember feeling a sense of excitement last New Year's Eve. I believed in my heart, that the year was going to be full of joy and accomplishments. My husband and I did a vision board together (okay, I coerced him a little), but it was memorable, and gave us a positive image of our future. 2008 really was a great year.

This year feels different. There doesn't seem to be the same excitement in the air. We're feeling the pinch of the economic crunch. Jobs are scarce, just like extra income. Our small town newspaper is running about 3/4 of a page in the employment section. Two years ago, it was at least 4 or 5 pages long. Everyone is being frugal. I've always been prudent, and sometimes teased about it. Now I'm just blending in with the rest of the penny-pinchers.

I've been thinking about a slogan for 2009. "2009 - really, it's fine." "2009 - at least it's benign." "2009 - so divine." None of those are working for me. They are kind of depressing, actually. Instead, I've decided to name my next decade. After all, I am turning 40 in two weeks.

Naming a decade is no small matter. It's a commitment, like hair color or Botox. A friend of mine turned 40 recently, and her "campaign" was "good Lordy, I'm forty." To me, that sounds debilitating. I want to embrace my forties. I think I'm going to go with "The Fabulous Forties." It's the frame of mind I desire to embrace. I want to be fabulous, feel fabulous and of course, look fabulous.