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Monthly Archives: November 2011

The Tree Is Trimmed…All Minus 1 ½ feet

WOW! It seems like Labor Day was just here and we were THINKING about Halloween. How’d we get to Christmas so fast? I tell Juan every year, Christmas comes faster and faster.

I la la LOVE Christmas. Everything about it. As a kid I loved the holiday decorations, the holiday spirit in everyone’s hearts and the joy of family and friends getting together. It is my time of year. As a child, my father loved Christmas too. I spent many days just hanging out in the living room with my Dad as he blasted Bing Crosby or Nat King Cole Christmas music on his “Reel to Reel” stereo. (For the much younger generations it was like a HUGE cassette!)

I collect Santa ornaments. When I travel, I love picking up one in remembrance of my trip. For years, I’ve been trimming an artificial tree. I put mine up so early, I want to be able to have it up after Thanksgiving and enjoy through Christmas. This is a challenge if you buy a real tree…besides some of my ornaments are heavy and the fake branches can hold the weight.

Since we moved to our 900 square foot home, I did have to get rid of the 9 ½ foot pre-lit tree I used in my old house. It would be folded over due to the low ceilings and the circumference would take up the whole living room. So we purchased a 7 ½ foot unlit slim tree. It is perfect for a smaller space especially with the narrow diameter….you do not feel that each time you walk by you will take an ornament out!

Since I had to manually light the tree I got started. How spoiled I’ve become with a pre-lit tree. It sure made it easy to put together. I was able to concentrate on getting the branches bent correctly and fluff the tips up to look like a real tree. Now I will have to wrap the lights AND get the branches ready for decorations. Juan hates this part as I become very picky on how the lights go on and how the branches are set. He would run around the tree in circles with the lights and throw a clump of tinsel at once if he could. (wink wink smiley face) I however like to weave the lights in and up to the trunk and back out trying to give the tree a perfect glow. (Wow that is so Martha Stewart, right?) Okay….I am a little particular when it comes to festive illumination!

Well, back to lighting. I thought I would be smart by setting up the first tree section and wrapping the branches before I add the middle and top section of the tree. That way I could easily lean over the top of the section and really weave the lights perfectly. Heck I am so smart…I’ll have this tree glowing and ready for ornaments in no time.

I spent a lot of time getting that first section lit. It was perfect….a perfect glow and the branches looked great. Now on to the middle section….I carefully lined up the pole to add to the bottom section and it doesn’t want to go in???!!!! Why? I thought well I must be way off and got under the branches to see what was going on. I am sure most of you know by now what happened. I did a beautiful job of lighting the MIDDLE section of the tree first! Crapola!!!!!Needless to say, Juan was laughing hysterically a good 10 minutes before he calmed down. It was pretty funny but now I am thinking “How can I add the bottom piece without disturbing the middle section?” or “Am I going to have to undo ALL the lights and start over?”

 
 So….I decided to continue on and instead of trying to pull out the section I did…I went ahead and added the top section and began my weaving wonderment of lights. It was beautifully lit….heck I should have another 1 ½ feet of tree to light but alas I was not paying attention when starting this project. Instead of a 7 ½ foot tree….I have a 6 foot tree and you know what???? It looks great. Juan agreed, he said you don’t even miss it and it fits so nicely in the room.


 

This year I decorated with my glass and German glass Santa and Snowman themes ornaments…went with heavy red accents and a dash of green on top!

Note to self:
 
* Be sure you check the labels of the tree to be sure you are starting with the correct section
 * Maybe you should hold off lighting the tree before you put the whole thing together

 
* Don’t get upset of you make a mistake….it’s the holidays and not worth it

* If you do mess up….take a break, have some eggnog and get creative!

              HAPPY HOLIDAYS!
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Happy Thanksgiving

Well….as I blogged the other day about entertaining in my home…I started cooking the dressing and turkey as well as preparing garlic mashed potatoes, cranberry salad and setting the table.

I prepared the majority of the meal so today Juan and I can enjoy our early morning bicycle ride and enjoy a stress free morning.

I have the ceramic dish-ware ready to go and all will be hot and ready at once in my 900 square foot home.

Juan and I wish you and yours a wonderful and safe Happy Thanksgiving.

We’re off on our ride….

 
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Posted by on November 24, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Happy Anniversary Juan!

Today Juan (I call him Juan his real name is John) and I celebrate our 11 year anniversary. Juan is my best friend…he puts up with my constant “last minute ideas” and as he likes to say…I am full of rainbows and unicorns! (wink wink smiley face)
So just a short note to wish Juan…Happy Anniversary! You are the best! I am so glad I ran into you at the coffee shop and spilled your coffee.
The best guy I could ever have sharing 900 square feet in.
Happy Anniversary Honey!
 

Myth # 1… My place is too small to entertain!

Tis the season to entertain. You live in a small space (right size living) and you feel you do not have the ability to invite family, friends or colleagues to enjoy some great food…a little wine and fun.

So not true! If you are organized and have your small space in order… It’s easy, manageable and can be stress free.

I will be preparing Thanksgiving for Juan and I as well as my mom and her friend. I’m not worried and it’s not about stressing myself out…it’s my holiday too and I want to enjoy.

When you walk in the main area… It’s a long narrow rectangle space.  So… not a lot of counter space to place covered dishes or hot plates, etc. I have seating inside and outside, however outside is not quite ready. Simple yet not formal seating…narrow area to sit and hang out….no problemo!

I try to create intimate areas for people to hang out and enjoy without creating a huge roadblock of the narrow walkway through the house. The patio is a great place to have cold beverages on ice as well as glasses etc and place to have people enjoy and hang out.

In the living area is a great place to have horsderves and another area to have people mingle and enjoying while you are doing the finishing touches in dinner. What is so great in being in a small space, you stay connected to everyone.

So back to Thanksgiving dinner…

Me… I’m always thinking out of the box! Tradition dining with different thought process about how we go about doing it.

Thinking about Thanksgiving Day and trying to prepare a hot and delicious meal for all to enjoy is all about timing. Cook the stuffing and prepare the turkey. Then you have to boil potatoes…gotta have some greens. The rolls…where are the rolls to bake?…pumpkin pie from scratch??? Oh and then the homemade gravy…and all needs to be ready and hot all at once without drying out or burning what is already cooked. I’m tired just thinking about it.

Now the way I do this will probably not be an option or desire for you, but I find this way easier on me and then I can enjoy like everyone else.

I started thinking about the meal and the best part of Thanksgiving for me is leftovers. So I took this idea and worked it to my advantage. Why not prepare dinner a day early? (I know you think I’m nuts about now)
I’m typically home on Wednesday and by then I’ve been to the store and hopefully got everything I need.  (Juan can always make a run if I forgot something). There’s no stress as I start cooking the stuffing and prepare the turkey. I enjoy some wine as I boil some potatoes and decide to get all my dishes and dinnerware ready for tomorrow. I continue preparing additional dishes if needed and get the table ready for a party.

Basically I prepare pretty much all of the dinner or the majority of it so that on Thanksgiving Day I’ll be ready, happy and stress free to enjoy my meal with my family. By doing this, I do not have the extra dishes around where I don’t have room…I’m able to heat in my ceramic ware and place on the kitchen granite countertops.

I’m able to reheat the turkey and stuffing…heat and add additional cream to mashed garlic potatoes, prepare the rolls and everything will be hot and ready at ONCE!

You probably think I’m crazy or weird but for me…I’m able to enjoy Thanksgiving morning with a bike ride some coffee and Juan. Enjoy a relaxing rest of morning adding final touches to my table. Have my meal heating while guests arrive and have everything hot and ready at once when everyone gathers around the table for grace.

I enjoy entertaining and I enjoy having people over to my small space…this works for me and I truly enjoy cooking and baking. I’m forever trying to do things easier and better each time…you might think of something different, if so…you should share and I would be happy to post!

Right size living has made me and Juan much better at eliminating the clutter or STUFF…keeping organized and in their place and enjoying a simpler lifestyle.

So why not cook ahead of time and enjoy the “meal/leftovers” on Thanksgiving Day.

 

Organization for the Holidays

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas….. Maybe not quite as much here in Phoenix AZ…but I am sure in other parts of the country.
I know you are also saying…”Why the heck is Shawn talking about Christmas when we haven’t even eaten the turkey and “camped out on the couch enjoying the football games.”
Well…the reason I am starting now is since October you have been getting into your attic/garage/basement/shed/storage unit pulling out the holiday decorations. This is the time as you go through each holiday event (Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years etc) look and see if you can better organize your decorations.
Sometimes the hardest part is taking the time to go through everything and see what you wish to keep, throw away or pass down to others…getting it organized. THEN…the next thing to think about is storage solutions.
As I have preached on several occasions, the key to small space living is great organization. Heck! The key to sanity with holiday décor regardless of size of home IS organization.
Let’s start off with ornaments. I remember growing up; my parents had the ornaments in their original packs. (Okay 1960’s) Although it kept the glass ornaments secure, you had a bunch of these small cartons you had to stack up in storage or in a box; however they were never quite the right shape to put in the bins etc. Or…you had all the ornaments in one giant box where they clanged on one another or wrapped in tissue and you never seemed to have enough room to put all your ornaments in one box.
So look for storage solutions at Target, Wal-Mart, IKEA or specialty container stores where you might find more specific needs at a slightly higher price. I’ve included a couple of ornament storage solutions that make it easy to organize and protect your precious ornaments year after year.
Strings of lights are always a challenge. One thing I decided to do was pre-lit Christmas tree. That way I do not have to spend the time weaving in strings of lights before I get to the fun part of decorating. So many trees are easily assembled with the pre-lit lights…no headaches in connecting etc. If you are investing in an artificial tree, be sure you get one that you are going to enjoy for years to come. Artificial trees are great as they can hold your heavier ornaments and be displayed a lot longer than a real tree. If you like the smell of a Christmas tree, try purchasing greenery at a nursery. You can decorate your mantels or other areas with the greenery and adding ornaments as well as having that great Christmas tree smell.
For outdoor lighting, be sure you have them neat and bundled. You do not wish to be spending your next year of decorating trying to eliminate the big “KNOT” in your string of lights like Clark Griswold had in “Christmas Vacation”. There are plastic boards you can wrap your lights around, a reel style that you can wind your lights on and easily spin off when needed, OR….a cheaper way is to get heavy duty cardboard, cut in a large rectangle shape and wrap a string of lights around. Only string one per cardboard, that way you can determine how many you will be using each year etc.
Bottom line you want to make decorating for the holidays easy.  There is nothing worse than dreading the thought of decorating. If you do not have your items easily accessible…try to find a spot in the garage or in a shed where you can get to your boxes easily.
For me….decorating for the holidays is such a joy. I LOVE the Christmas season. And if you take the time to organize your decorations, clear out what you do not want or use and have it easily accessible, you’ll be more apt to put them up each year! 
 HAPPY ORGANIZING HOLIDAY SEASON!
 

Shameless Plug! Hosted A Little Holiday Show

Several “blog posts” ago (It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas) I shared with you a passion I have for making things. You see…when it’s 122 degrees in the summer here in Phoenix AZ, I try to think about cool crisp air mornings and wearing a jacket to keep warm…basically day dreaming about cooler weather! ALSO, I am in my 900 square foot home creating cool “objects de art”!

Well I had a small holiday event showcasing my ornaments and crosses. Needless to say I sold 80% of my inventory AND have orders for several crosses. Whooo Hoooo! I’m excited…can you tell? (wink wink smiley face and high five!)

Many have been asking about a website etc and I am in the works, however, I think I will put up a facebook page and provide you pictures of my ornaments and other STUFF I am creating for the holidays if you are interested. For more info, email me at shawn@jmsogroup.com.

 

A Sideboard That Becomes So Much More!

Are you familiar with the game tetris? I used to play that game all the time. Thank God my iPhone has “an app for that”.  A puzzle where you have to connect different shaped “bricks” to create one consecutive line that will disappear if done correctly. If you don’t, the bricks stack up and you lose.
Well there is a wonderful “out of the box” thinker/artist…well I am sure he is much more than an artist, named Pedro who resides in Lisboa, Portugal who created this beautiful sideboard.
A great solution for a very small space such as a studio apartment or tiny loft. Another way to have “three solutions in one!”
Yes…the inspiration came from the tetris game. Checkout the photos and do you see the “cut-out” design? Very much like the bricks from the game? Yet, it is a wonderful space-saving piece of furniture for storage… THEN it can become a place to eat as two blocks pull out to become benches and a long slender “brick” becomes the table.
Think of the functionality. You can dine, work, store and enjoy this beautiful piece of art…yes, it is art…very clever yet functional (yes, function is my word of the day).
T@tris furniture Satisfying the most hidden sins“-Pedro Machado. More info on Pedro Machado…check out his gallery. Or you can email him directly, pedro@atipic.pt.
 
 
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