Monthly Archives: July 2011

So What If You Could Have a Little Place at the Beach?

For me and Juan….we love the west coast especially the beaches in Southern California. We took a break from the heat and spent some time down in Laguna Beach, Corona Del Mar, Newport, San Clemente and Dana Point. Yes, we spent time walking, sitting, basking and driving along Pacific Coast Highway viewing the spectacular ocean views and seeking out that perfect shell.

It seems you can tell who the tourist is and who the locals are. So many of the locals with their daily routines of rising before sunrise to hit the beach and make their daily pilgrimage up and down the shore taking in the calm sounds of the ocean and filling their lungs with the sea breeze air. It seems that all your troubles fade looking out towards the horizon as the fog hugs the shore and bluffs around you.

Small Church

I wonder how many people visit and wonder…”Wow I want to live here but how can I afford it?” “It’s too expensive!” Well, I have great friends that live here and love their life here. They live within their means and don’t have a need to keep up with The Jones’! Example…I have a friend (has been more like a brother than just a friend) that has been married for over 11+ years, has two beautiful  boys and a great life together. They are my inspiration, why????They live simply and in a small space. A two bedroom one bath apartment sitting on the bluff with Full Ocean views in every room! Some would say they sacrificed what? Extra space to store more stuff! Extra storage to keep things you really don’t want to keep but do out of guilt or laziness. I think they have it perfect! A perfect life in a great space with incredible views. Every time I see them or speak with them, they are blissfully happy. I think they figured it out….they get it.

I have another friend in the Los Angeles area that has done the same thing. She went small in order to have an incredible life on the beach in Redondo. Hopefully, I would like to “interview her” and get her perspective on her “small space living” and the incredible designs she has come up with in living in her space.

What would you give up to live at the beach? We had an opportunity to walk up and down the narrow streets in Laguna Beach and view some of the small places people live in for a place near the ocean.

Beach House on Legion St
Laguna Beach Cottage

It’s not about the size or the square footage…it’s not about the quantity…for me, it’s about the quality of life. Living small with a view like this? I would do it….would you?


I Now Pronounce You Husband and Wife

Juan and I went to Southern California to attend a dear friend of mine’s daughter’s wedding. It was such a beautiful and magical evening. It was an outdoor wedding in a beautiful setting overlooking the city below. The weather was a perfect “seventy-something” which for me and Juan, who live in two zip codes past hell Phoenix AZ, this was paradise.
I look upon the happy couple and smile as I am reminded of the time Juan and I were first married and all the fun times we had first starting off… dreaming of our future. Back then you think of all the grand things you have to accomplish, getting your career in line, starting a family, getting a house….a big house and so on and so on.
The newlyweds have worked very hard for this day, they have saved and planned for the big event and taking the necessary steps to start their life off together. HOWEVER….this beautiful bride to be and the future husband started their future off without being in “wedding debt”! How easy it is to get sucked in to the expenses…the dress, how many in the wedding party, the food, the caterers, the cake…good Lord, the cake!
Couples (the Parents) spend way too much money for an event that is it really about the couple? Or, is it about everyone else??? Like I have “preached” from the beginning…Simplify your life, eliminate the clutter and the stuff. The final result is a wonderful evening with a close group of friends and family enjoying the celebration of a union…that will last a lifetime.
Juan and I today after 10+ years of marriage…and after making this decision to simplify our lives…well, Juan and I feel like newlyweds again.

Irish Marriage Blessing
May God be with you and bless you.
May you see your children’s children.
May you be poor in misfortune,
Rich in blessings.
May you know nothing but happiness
From this day forward.
Congrats Chelsea and Josh

All Your House Is….A Place To Put Your Stuff!

“All Your House Is….A Place To Put Your Stuff!”
George Carlin
I was reminded of this great clip of George Carlin’s. A friend and networking buddy, Robert Goodman, sent me the clip in regards to what I have been discussing in my blogs. “Stuff!” and “Do you really need that size of house to hold all your stuff?”
It is so true! Take a five minute break, watch, laugh and learn!

So, have you done anything to eliminate the extra clutter from your life? Share…post a comment…let me know!


Where do you want to put this?

So another weekend, the big one! The big moving day. I had a plan; I knew where everything was going. Unfortunately the morning started off a little rough as I strained my “bum knee” not good. But today’s the day and I was so excited about our new place. We had the bedroom furniture in (thanks to IKEA and Juan for putting it together) and now the fun begins our new/old midcentury modern furniture. 
Well we start bringing in our 1962 Fisher stereo, our cool Danish couch and chair, a small side chair (Juan’s find) and our wonderful school chairs aka new dining chairs. It’s so exciting. But then….more and more keeps coming in and as the day wears on, I’m getting tired and cranky and my knee is really throbbing. Juan is feeling the stress and strain of a long day and taking the burden of carrying and managing most of the heavy bulky items. 
Tension rises and even though we thought we got rid of a lot of stuff, more and more items keep pouring in our 900 square foot home. 
Is it going in the garbage? Are we selling it? 
He said: So where do you want the grandfather clock?
She said: I don’t know 
He said: What are you staring at? 
She said: Huh? Nothing. 
He said: So where? 
She said: In the living room corner
He said: It’s not going to fit there
She said: Why? 
He said: Because too much furniture in that room
She said: Hhmmm
He said: Shawn,
She said: Yeah
He said: What are you staring at?
She said: Nothing (I was truly thinking but yes staring)
He said exasperated: Fine! 
Storms off, slamming doors, cabinets etc 
She said: Juan?! Juan! Talk to me….where do you want me to put this and don’t say in the garbage or up my @**! 
Bottom line is this….when you think you have eliminated more than enough? You haven’t…Nope, no way, “ain’t gonna happen”…guess again. I truly thought we did an awesome job in getting rid of stuff(we did, goes to show you how much stuff we really had). But, when I began unpacking the kitchen, we had WAY more stuff than what I thought. Or our new cabinets shrunk.
Again, Juan and I sat in the new kitchen contemplating what on earth do we get rid of now? Yes, we STILL had stuff to sell, give away or donate. So we started with the pots and pans and realized we do not need that many pots and pans just take the ones you utilize the most. Keep the larger size and small one; get rid of everything in the middle. Create the piles once again; SELL, DONATE, THROW AWAY. Just needed a little fine tuning, but after all we’ve become “Masters of Condensing and Eliminating”.  We’re gettin’ this!
So here are some pictures of our 900 square foot home with our finds at our vintage shops! Modern Manor & Phoenix Metro Retro as well as Ikea.
First off….let’s start off “Old School” and check out my 1962 Fisher Electra Stereo!
Now for some basic pictures of some of my new “stuff” in our 900 Square foot casita!

Originally black came from my Mom and Dad circa 1960’s

Walkway into our Patio home

Ikea Bedroom for now!

Shelving with doors now holds clothes



Kitchen View


Table with  1950’s school chairs refurbished

Check out our teak coffee table

Now we have extra side tables!


Yes, retro floor lamp

Yes, it works!

Would love to read your comments about what we did and how we did it. I have more fun ideas to show next time…. 

Small Space….Time To Decorate

Modern Manor
Juan and I really wanted to furnish our house simple yet well-designed AND of course our own flare (meaning cool). It’s going to be a small space so we need to make sure the things we buy fit AND are “multi-functional. I’ve always loved the “Mid Century Modern” Style whether its houses, furniture and other “kitschy” style accessories. We stumbled upon a great shopping area here in Phoenix AZ.  It’s on 7th Avenue between Indian School and Camelback (For all my local readers). It’s called the Melrose District and it is a smattering of vintage/retro boutiques, thrift shops and great ethnic restaurants. My love for mid century modern era furnishings I’m sure is due to growing up in the late 60’s-70’s.

Phoenix Metro Retro

The first several weeks of “shopping” these stores, Juan and I found ourselves reminiscing and strolling down memory lane. Things like the big thick glass ashtrays in dark green or amber, the cool teak wood furniture that had great storage for every need. The bars…oh those fabulous bars with the leather trim and stocked with all sorts of wine and spirits. I can see my Mom and Dad dressed fabulously, Glenn Miller records playing on the stereo and the fondue pots simmering with broths, cheese and of course chocolate (for dessert) to plunge your favorite food in.
PMR-Vintage Desk
Okay back to the present. So we are moving into a 900 square foot home and furniture today is typically oversized and overstuffed. So what to do? Go for the mid century modern furniture. Why? “It’s perfect for smaller spaces…sofas, bedroom suites, side tables, buffets and chairs, all fit perfectly!”- quoted from Doug from Phoenix Metro Retro based in Phoenix AZ.
Eames, Arne Jacobsen, Harry Bertoia, Hans Wegner….All the cool pieces of furniture maintained all these years. Well, with the help from Ryan & Kylie of  Modern Manor and Doug & Heidi of Phoenix Metro Retro, two great places that find, refurbish and sell these mid century modern masters.  
MM-Entrance View
MM-Vintage Lighting

Modern Manor and Phoenix Metro Retro are side by side in the Melrose District. You can’t go wrong in shopping both places. They have great finds from furniture to accessories for the home AND if there is something they don’t have, just let them know and they will keep an eye out for it and contact you when they do. At times, they will reupholster pieces to give it a new and fresh look. When it comes to anything mid century modern, you will be impressed with Ryan’s and/or Doug’s knowledge of architects, designers and fashion of that era. I always walk out of there learning something new.  I’ve included their websites (click on the store names in the posting and it will take you to their website) AND you have to check them out on facebook. These links will take you to their facebook pages; Modern Manor and Phoenix Metro Retro!
Next…What did we buy and how does it look in the new place?….


Challenging Social Standards

Juan & I in front of our house….well read below
As we begin to share our adventure and the steps we took it may seem like we arrived at our decisions easily. That’s definitely not the case. There was a lot of soul-searching and countless discussions that took place before we took the first steps. The biggest step we took before embarking on this journey was overcoming Social Stigma.

It was amazing to see people we are so close to NOT embrace what we were doing but shake their heads in dismay or worse….looked upon us with sadness as we lost something…our social status. Some of our choices were necessary, we had to make some tough decisions especially to survive the blow the economy hit us with right between the eyes. However, the more we thought about it the more we accepted, hugged and cuddled it! We knew this was the right way to go.

Whether it was our decision to eliminate clutter, let go of the unnecessary, selling furniture, downsizing our living space or all of the above. We wrestled with putting our wants and needs first.  Especially where they contradicted what we’d been taught to believe was the right path or goals to pursue. Thanks in part to the media; many of us have come to believe that we must live our lives in a certain manner, keeping up with the Jones’. We must have a BIG house, European cars, designer clothes, furnishings, etc.  If we don’t have them we must get them. To some extent we all want to fit in.

Add familial standards (or guilt) on top of what “everyone” else tells us is the right path to choose and you arrive at where most of us are in our lives. Chasing someone else’s dream… Following someone else’s idea of success… Constantly striving for more. Most folks forge ahead, grasping at the “brass ring”. Many of those that have attainted that “socially acceptable” level of success find themselves struggling to maintain their hold. I’ve known many people that have the big house, two gorgeous cars (purchased every two years), the pool the extras in life along with two small children. However, they virtually had no money saved for their children’s education and really could only afford McDonalds out once in a while. To us, that’s not living.

Simplifying your life is a personal quest. Everyone who decides to do so has to define what that means to them. Regardless of your definition or parameters, there is one task everyone must address. Examine and define YOUR values. Is your idea of happiness and success your own or someone else’s?  Simplifying your life can be as little as re-examining / re-focusing your values or (as in our case) completely changing the path you are traveling.

So far, the hardest task we’ve tackled has been letting go of many of the ideas that were deeply ingrained in us. Challenging Social Standards…trying to be someone you really aren’t and don’t want to be… Once we did this, the rest came easy.

In regards to the photo above, another couple took this photo of us in front of a winery while on our honeymoon. Juan and I always looked at the picture and laughed as it looked like we were outside our new home. Back then, we would look at that picture and say how that would be a goal for us to own someday. Yes, just us, two dachshunds and a 31 year old bird in that size of a mansion! Funny how things change, for me it is certainly not about having the biggest house, fanciest car or biggest “rock” on my finger. It’s more about what I do while I’m here (on this earth) and being the best person I can be and enjoying and experiencing life to its fullest….not material things.

A funny read…Paul Fussell describes the houses, objects, artifacts, speech, clothing styles, and intellectual proclivities of American classes from the top to the bottom and everybody — you’ll surely recognize yourself — in between. Class is guaranteed to amuse and infuriate, whether your class is so high it’s out of sight (literally) or you are, alas, a sinking victim of prole drift. 

1 Comment

Posted by on July 7, 2011 in Uncategorized


Garage Sale!!!

Remember all that touchy feely talk of “emotions”, “letting go”, blah, blah, blah…… Well a lot of it gets thrown out the window or cast aside a bit as you prepare for the GARAGE SALE!
As that pile of immensely valuable stuff begins to build in the staging area (i.e., garage), you begin to see dollar $ign$! You know your garage sale is going to be better than anyone else’s, because your stuff is actually good. It’s amazing that you’re actually getting rid of it, and at such bargain prices to boot.  You’re going to make a killing!
Our timing couldn’t have been better as our Community had a bi-annual garage sale that they advertised in the papers. We place our own ad on Craig’s list as well. If you are going to have a garage sale, one of the best things you can do is start on Friday morning, early! We did a land-slide business by 8:00 am as we had people, who were out garage sale-ing, neighbors on their way to work and all of the landscapers/home service providers stop by.
We knew the Community Garage sale was running through Sunday, so we decided we’d only run our sale until noon Friday and Saturday, unless there were customers. We might even end earlier if it was slow. Our goal was to be sold out by Saturday noon.
I’d say we easily sold 50% of our highly valuable treasures by 1030 am on Friday. We were so happy with our haul that we actually walked around the house looking for more stuff to sell. That commercial grade BBQ, sell it! That lamp, table, and a few more tools, pots and pans, sell ‘em! Friday night we even decided we should sell our big screen TV!
Saturday started off with another flurry and by 1030-ish we were mostly sold out. We had a few big items left and decided to run the sale on Sunday morning for a few hours. Whatever didn’t sell, we’d donate and take the tax right off. Sunday started off slow and we didn’t think it would be any good. In the 9:00 hour we had a final rush and sold anything that was worth a buck. We had a very small pile of stuff left. We piled it together and hung a sign on it that said “FREE”. By the time we were showered and ready to run errands, it was gone.
I don’t remember exactly how much we made, but it was a substantial amount. Most of the big ticket items; furniture, the TV, etc, we placed on Craig’s list. All told we made enough to completely refurnish our new home, buy a new/ better TV, buy all the odds and ends you need whenever you move and still had a small “home fund” left over. Money is better than sentiment any day!
A few tips:
·         List big ticket items on CraigsList. You’ll get more.
·         Price everything as you add it to the pile. If you wait until the day of the sale (no matter how early you start to set up) there will be a line of people asking you “How much?”
·         Make sure you have plenty of change ($5’s $1’s, quarters, nickels and dimes). Also, make sure you know how much change you started with, IF, you are interested in knowing how much you actually made.
·         If at all possible, keep the sale items on the driveway or at the edge of the garage. This gives you a barrier so people aren’t rummaging through the stuff in your garage that isn’t for sale.
·         Be realistic when pricing things. People come to Garage Sales to find bargains. All that valuable stuff you are parting with is not so valuable to them. Even if it is brand new!
·         Don’t be offended by haggling. It’s actually fun.
·         If people are looking at things, but not buying, your prices are too high! Keep lowering them.
·         Place a “Free” box at the end of your driveway and occasionally add a few of the real cheap items to it. (It’ll save you a trip to Goodwill). You’ll be surprised at how many people will take something from the “Free “box, then buy something from you.
·         If someone wants something, don’t hold it back unless you know them, or they leave a deposit. Your goal is to sell this stuff ASAP! We learned this the hard way as the first person that looked at our BBQ asked if we’d hold it while she went for the truck. While we were waiting at least 5 other people wanted to buy the BBQ. When the lady didn’t show up as promised, we put it back out and sold it immediately.
·         Don’t run the sale by yourself if you can help it. Have at least one other person help you as you’ll get overwhelmed.
·          And, designate one person to handle the money/make change. This way nothing walks off without being paid for.
%d bloggers like this: